ROBUST TIME CRYSTAL CREATED
This fascinating article was spotted and passed along by G.B., and to my non-scientific mind, raises as many questions as it answers. The upshot is, that scientists at the University of California at Riverside have successfully created a time crystal from laser interferometry:
I leave it to the reader to read through the whole article, but there were a couple of paragraphs that caught my eye and make me wonder if everything about this experiment - its ultimate purpose in fact - is being reported. Here's the two paragraphs:
Although a time crystal’s behavior repeats over time, it cannot be considered a mere ticking clock. Specifically, a clock requires external energy to keep going, but for a time crystal, the “ticking” is its most natural, stable state. This is the opposite of physicists’ idea of thermodynamic equilibrium, in which energy flows into a system only to inevitably dissipate: imagine a pot of water that is brought to a rolling boil and then returned to room temperature. In this sense, time crystals are rather like a pot of water that always boils in the exact same way and never cools down. By some definitions, they thus represent a new and unique state of matter that is distinguished by a steadfast persistence in staying out of equilibrium. As such inherent metronomes, time crystals may be a great future asset to precision timekeeping or quantum information processing.
The team’s breakthrough was arguably using a comparatively simpler approach centered on piping twin beams of laser light into a millimeter-wide, disk-shaped crystal cavity. Inside the cavity, the two beams repeatedly ricocheted off of its sides and collided in the process. Crucially, the researchers picked a particular cavity design and precisely controlled the properties of the laser beams so that the salvo of reflected light produced odd patterns that could never emerge from light emitted by, for example, common household light bulbs. Inside its crystalline bounce house, the laser light became a parade of “chunks”, each more like a single wave crest that never loses shape rather than a broad, wide ripple on the surface of a perturbed lake. These so-called solitary waves, or solitons, emerged and formed the parade with a predictable periodicity, marching perfectly on beat, consequently building a time crystal. The physicists caught on to this “crystallization” by carefully studying the light that trickled out of the cavity. (Emphasis added)
Now permit me some of my usual guessing in the form of some high octane speculation based on these two paragraphs. The first thing to note is that time crystals are systems that are far from equilibrium, and which are able to sustain that ability over time. The little "leakage" mentioned in the article suggests that the systems will eventually wind down and perhaps achieve equilibrium or entropy and lose all that energy, but if so, not for a very very very very long time. Note that this system was created, in this case, by a carefully designed optical cavity especially created to collide laser beams in specific patterns, which is another nice way of saying "we designed a special optical cavity for laser interferometry to create special patterns which patterns exhibited time-crystalline properyies." Or to put it as crudely and nakedly as possible: a stable and enduring non-equilibrium system was created by laser interferometry and an optical cavity. That alone, if one considers all its implications, is a whopper doozie.
And I strongly suspect that what is happening is that this system is acting as a transducer for zero-point energy, hence, its great enduring stability over time. And if that guess should prove to be true, it's an even bigger whopper doozie...
See you on the flip side...
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