Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Time Crystals

Physicists Frank Wilczek at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology and Al Shapere at the University of Kentucky, theorize on the existence of Time Crystals or a state at which time arranges itself in the same way matter does within a crystal.

From the Technology Review Blog

    One of the most powerful ideas in modern physics is that the Universe is governed by symmetry. This is the idea that certain properties of a system do not change when it undergoes a transformation of some kind. For example, if a system behaves the same way regardless of its orientation or movement in space, it must obey the law of conservation of momentum. If a system produces the same result regardless of when it takes place, it must obey the law of conservation of energy.

From the io9 blog

    Wilczeck, along with collaborator Al Shapere from the University of Kentucky, has just published two papers examining how the mathematics that govern crystal formations in space could also work in time. They argue that time translation symmetry - the notion that a system will maintain the same features over a given interval of time - can be broken in low energy states and then reduced to a smaller part of the system, which they call time crystals.

    The key here is that the system being described is in its lowest energy state, which means that there should be no movement in it at all. But if something inside the system starts moving, then the time translation symmetry has been broken. What Wilczeck and Shapere argue is that these moving objects could simply get stuck in an eternal loop. The periodic movement of the object through time is just like the periodic arrangement of a crystal's internal structure through space, and the end result is the same - symmetry is broken, but it isn't lost.

[via io9 blog]

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