What are time crystals and why are they in kids’ toys?
Time crystals have been detected in an unexpected place: monoammonium phosphate, a compound found in fertilizer and 'grow your own crystal' kits.
Normal crystals—think salt or quartz—have atoms arranged in a fixed grid structure, and they don’t move around much. Not, however, time crystals.
Their atoms actually oscillate. They spin one direction and then when they’re exposed to an electromagnetic pulse they switch direction and spin the other way.
That doesn’t change when that same electromagnetic pulse is irregular; time crystals are locked to a particular frequency, one that maintains its regularity.
Also known as Discrete Time Crystals or DTCs, the one just discovered at Yale (and funded by the National Science Foundation) is made from monoammonium phosphate (MAP) crystals. They’re also the crystals that kids know and love when they get them in toy kits to grow their own crystals at home.
Monoammonium phosphate crystal. (Photo: /em>
"We decided to try searching for the DTC signature ourselves," said physicist Sean Barrett, senior author on two new papers about this discovery.
"Our crystal measurements looked quite striking right off the bat. Our work suggests that the signature of a DTC could be found, in principle, by looking in a children's crystal growing kit."
“We realized that just finding the DTC signature didn’t necessarily prove that the system had a quantum memory of how it came to be,” said Yale graduate student Robert Blum, co-author on the studies.
“This spurred us to try a time crystal ‘echo,’ which revealed the hidden coherence, or quantum order, within the system,” added lead study author Jared Rovny, also a Yale graduate student.
“It’s too early to tell what the resolution will be for the current theory of discrete time crystals, but people will be working on this question for at least the next few years,” Barrett said.
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.
- Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
- These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
- The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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