In February 2012, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek decided to go public with a strange and, he worried, somewhat embarrassing idea. Impossible as it seemed, Wilczek had developed an apparent proof of “time crystals” — physical structures that move in a repeating pattern, like minute hands rounding clocks, without expending energy or ever winding down. Unlike clocks or any other known objects, time crystals derive their movement not from stored energy but from a break in the symmetry of time, enabling a special form of perpetual motion.
When matter crystallizes, its atoms spontaneously organize themselves into the rows, columns and stacks of a three-dimensional lattice. An atom occupies each “lattice point,” but the balance of forces between the atoms prevents them from inhabiting the space between. Because the atoms suddenly have a discrete, rather than continuous, set of choices for where to exist, crystals are said to break the spatial symmetry of nature — the usual rule that all places in space are equivalent (...)
Eventually, his equations indicated that atoms could indeed form a regularly repeating lattice in time, returning to their initial arrangement only after discrete (rather than continuous) intervals, thereby breaking time symmetry. Without consuming or producing energy, time crystals would be stable, in what physicists call their “ground state” (...)
"Wilczek also suggested that a computing device could be possible with different rotational states representing information, and maybe different kinds of ions. Since this construct is in the lowest energy state it could in principle survive the heat death of the universe and continue forever."
"To visualize a time crystal, think of Earth looping back to its same location in space every 365¼ days; the planet repeats itself periodically as it moves through time. But a true time crystal is made not of a planet but of an object in its lowest energy state, like an electron stripped of all possible energy. This object could endlessly loop in time, just as electrons in a superconductor could theoretically flow through space for all eternity."
Figure (a) shows a possible structure of a space-time crystal. It has periodic structures in both space and time. The particles rotate in one direction, even at the lowest energy state. Figure (b) shows ultracold ions caught in a ring-shaped trapping potential in a weak magnetic field.
Imagine a clock that will keep perfect time forever, even after the heat-death of the universe. This is the “wow” factor behind a device known as a “space-time crystal,” a four-dimensional crystal that has periodic structure in time as well as space. However, there are also practical and important scientific reasons for constructing a space-time crystal.
Crystals by definition have a certain structure that is repeated over and over again through space, like so. The idea behind the 4D clock is that, since space and time are intimately related, it should be possible to create a crystal that repeats itself over and over through time as well. This has been proven to work mathematically, and these researchers have a plan to actually build one, although they aren't able to with current technology.
The way it actually works is a little hard to explain but I'll try my best. The first thing you need is an ion trap, which is a fancy way of saying "holding something in place with electric and magnetic fields." This video is a good demonstration of one. The second thing you need to understand are ground states, which are fancy way of saying "the lowest amount of energy a particle can have." A particle in a ground state is very stable because unless something gives it more energy, it's happy to stay that way forever.
The 4D clock uses a combination of the two ideas. The key point is that, if you put a ground state particle into the ion trap, it will start rotating on its own. Since rotation is something that repeats the same thing over and over (like how the Earth returns to the same position at the start of every day), you now have a particle that repeats itself through time the same way a 3D crystal repeats through space. Combine a regular 3D crystal with the ion trap idea, and you now have a 4D crystal.
Eventually, his equations indicated that atoms could indeed form a regularly repeating lattice in time, returning to their initial arrangement only after discrete (rather than continuous) intervals, thereby breaking time symmetry.
Without consuming or producing energy, time crystals would be stable, in what physicists call their “ground state” (...)
Originally posted by Vonotar
OK, let me drop off the deep end here for a moment, and forgive me for the generalizations and simplifications, I'm trying to find the language for the concepts here...
If time can be said to become crystallized, than it follows that you can build things from a lattice of time crystals, like a LEGO set. To what purpose, I have no idea.
If I'm reading this theory correctly, "time" becomes meaningless to whatever thing is trapped in the crystal, "duration" is seen over and over and over.
If space and time are set up the same way, could you in effect have a table of temperal elements? I don't think the language exists for what I'm thinking about. Space, matter has a structure we can see and define. Atoms, molecules, elements, etc. What if there is an analogue, but for time? I may be thinking about this all wrong, and forgive me if that is the case. Heady days of discovery await if this is true!