Feeds

Berkeley Lab proposes 4D clock

‘Space-time crystal’ would outlast the universe

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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.” ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.