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Space-Time Crystals

Posted June 16, 2015 11:02 AM by Bayes

Breaking Temporal Symmetry

A normal crystal is said to break spatial symmetry because its particles line up in specific directions, rather than being regularly spaced (as they are at higher temperatures). A new concept, called a space-time crystal takes that one step further by breaking temporal symmetry. Breaking temporal symmetry simply means that an object or a collection of particles experiences some kind of systematic, repeating change over time. Of course, that could simply be a planet orbiting the sun. What makes a space-time crystal special is that it breaks temporal symmetry from it's ground state. In other words, it would take energy to stop the broken temporal symmetry. Usually the opposite is true.

It sounds bizarre, but the concept was presented by Frank Wilczek in 2012 and is being pursued by several experimental groups. Frank Wilczek won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004 along with David Gross and David Politzer for their discovery of asymptotic fredom in the theory of the strong interaction and is currently the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at MIT, so the theory has some weight behind it.

Here is a recent article on the subject:

"Time Crystals" Could Upend Physicists' Theory of Time

IN FEBRUARY 2012, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek decided to go public with a strange and, he worried, somewhat embarrassing idea. Impossible as it seemed, Wilczek had developed an apparent proof of "time crystals" - physical structures that move in a repeating pattern, like minute hands rounding clocks, without expending energy or ever winding down. Unlike clocks or any other known objects, time crystals derive their movement not from stored energy but from a break in the symmetry of time, enabling a special form of perpetual motion.

"Most research in physics is continuations of things that have gone before," said Wilczek, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This, he said, was "kind of outside the box." Wilczek's idea met with a muted response from physicists. Here was a brilliant professor known for developing exotic theories that later entered the mainstream, including the existence of particles called axions and anyons, and discovering a property of nuclear forces known as asymptotic freedom (for which he shared the Nobel Prize in physics in 2004). But perpetual motion, deemed impossible by the fundamental laws of physics, was hard to swallow. Did the work constitute a major breakthrough or faulty logic? Jakub Zakrzewski, a professor of physics and head of atomic optics at Jagiellonian University in Poland who wrote a perspective on the research that accompanied Wilczek's publication, says: "I simply don't know."

Now, a technological advance has made it possible for physicists to test the idea. They plan to build a time crystal, not in the hope that this perpetuum mobilewill generate an endless supply of energy (as inventors have striven in vain to do for more than a thousand years) but that it will yield a better theory of time itself.

Article Continues Here

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#1

Re: Space-Time Crystals

06/16/2015 2:20 PM

Can't wait to incorporate these into my robot's brain and achieve consciousness in a non-organic structure...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-time_crystal

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#2

Re: Space-Time Crystals

06/17/2015 8:33 AM

Roger,

this is way above me, yet it is an interest piece that I have read it few time trying to get an understanding.

What I can't seem to throw out, it reminds me of a quartz crystal as a resonator for time keeping..... but I just can't quite make the connection if any.

I have to review it some more.

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#3

Re: Space-Time Crystals

06/17/2015 9:57 AM

Hi Roger. In a first place, this seems to be a kind of "perpetual motion" machine. After all, we get a "space movement" of the system (step-rotational of the ions' ring), although we could consider it as a "time movement" (through the lattice of time). So, it seems to be incompatible to the basic laws of physics. (However, there is such an example of perpetual motion: the eternal "motion" of the electrons around the nucleus due to the quantum nature of their energy. But this is a subatomic quantum system/event. The 100 ions' ring, though, is much larger than that. We could consider it as a kind of macroscopic system. And the perpetual motion of such system should be weird.)

On the other hand this seems to be more compatible (more close to) the General Relativity (what happens in space, it may happens in time too, due to their interdependent nature).

Anyway, it's weird but interesting.

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: Space-Time Crystals

06/17/2015 11:28 AM

I am probably confused also, but what I take away is...

The atoms have a confortable distance (in space), determined by forces between them, and hence form a crystal with equal spacing. I think what they are saying is that if these atoms are moving in a circle so that an atom occupies the space that another atom recently occupied, that there will be a preferred spacing in time (an interval) between when atom A was in spot (x,y,z) and atom B was in the same spot.

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Re: Space-Time Crystals

06/17/2015 11:58 AM

I don't want to go off in another direction so I'll mark this off-topic, the interest I have in this was the properties in quarts crystals... I underlined where I'm trying to connect this article to, which may be a mistake.

here is a section that explains it best.

"Quartz crystals are piezoelectric, which means that they generate an electrical charge when mechanical pressure is applied to them. They also vibrate if an electrical charge is applied to them. The frequency of this vibration is a function of the cut and shape of the crystal. Quartz crystals can be cut at a consistent size and shape to vibrate at thousands of times per second, making them extremely stable resonators for keeping very accurate time. "

An with this interest, I may be bias of want Roger posted and due to my unfamiliarity, I'm may be trying to see something that's not there. (which may appear unscientific at this point to the professionals in this field).

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#6
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Re: Space-Time Crystals

06/17/2015 1:23 PM

Interesting parallel. I think they're talking about abstract crystals and not the real ones that we're used to dealing with!

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Re: Space-Time Crystals

06/17/2015 1:39 PM

the difference between practical and theory.

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#8

Re: Space-Time Crystals

06/17/2015 3:15 PM

Hi Roger. This is very interesting. It almost makes sense when you understand that Einstein said time is the fourth dimention. It seems the difference between time and the other dimentions is that time has a direction (or flow) built in from the creation.

When will the experiment be made to see if the ring rotates?

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#9
In reply to #2

Re: Space-Time Crystals

06/18/2015 10:09 AM

It's a tough concept for me as well. The key here is the idea that the system (crystal) is in its lowest energy state and yet varies over time. You have to add energy to stop the movement, for everything else it's the opposite. For instance...

The quartz resonator is different in that it vibrates due it's constituent atoms, and if you cool the crystal, it vibrates less and less. In other words, as you remove energy the movement slows, the opposite of a Space-Time crystal (as I understand it).

Here is a very technical explanation involving Quantum Mechanics:

Luming Duan - Space-Time Crystal

***I'm posting this for everyone, just in case someone wants the math to this.***

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: Space-Time Crystals

06/18/2015 10:11 AM

Hi SG,

Here's a link that explains the experiment....it's pretty technical

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9UshhFMwPc

-R

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