Feeds

Berkeley Lab proposes 4D clock

‘Space-time crystal’ would outlast the universe

The essential guide to IT transformation

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.” ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9000 beer tokens - and counting
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
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?