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.
A new study estimated the untapped potential of wind energy across Europe.
- A new report calculated how much electricity Europe could generate if it built onshore wind farms on all of its exploitable land.
- The results indicated that European onshore wind farms could supply the whole world with electricity from now until 2050.
- Wind farms come with a few complications, but the researchers noted that their study was meant to highlight the untapped potential of the renewable energy source in Europe.
French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- The French government initially invested in a rural solar roadway in 2016.
- French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- Solar panel "paved" roadways are proving to be inefficient and too expensive.
You want one. Now you may be able to survive one.
Photo credit: Jie Zhao / Getty contributor
- Cats live in a quarter of Western households.
- Allergies to them are common and can be dangerous.
- A new approach targets the primary trouble-causing allergen.