Feeds

Berkeley Lab proposes 4D clock

‘Space-time crystal’ would outlast the universe

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

It’s not quite a perpetual motion machine: scientists at the US Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have proposed a design for a timing crystal they say would theoretically outlast the universe.

In this paper, published on Arxiv, the researchers propose a design for "a 4D crystal that has periodic structures in both space and time”.

While it sounds blue-sky, the researchers say a space-time crystal would provide important inputs to understanding problems in many-body physics (complex interactions between large numbers of individual particles).

To create the “space-time crystal”, the paper suggests trapping particles of the same charge in space using an electrical field. Their Coulomb repulsion forces them into a ring configuration, at their lowest possible energy state.

In classical mechanics, that’s an end to the matter: the “lowest energy state” would mean the particles can’t move. This is, it seems, the characteristic of a 3D crystal in the macro world: the particles have organized into their lowest energy state. To get them moving – for example, in a computer’s timing crystal – external energy is needed.

However, there’s an escape clause at the quantum level: the ions can be given a push with a weak magnetic field, to get them rotating, and since they lose no energy to the outside world, that rotation should continue forever – even, according to research leader Xiang Zhang, after the “heat death” of the universe. And since there is no energy output from the crystal, it doesn’t break the rules to offer a perpetual motion machine.

As Zhang explains here, “a spatial ring of trapped ions in persistent rotation will periodically reproduce itself in time, forming a temporal analog of an ordinary spatial crystal. With a periodic structure in both space and time, the result is a space-time crystal.” ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?