back to article Time crystals really do exist, say physicists*

A new quantum state of matter has been experimentally observed for the first time, according to two papers published in Nature. In 2012, Frank Wilczek, a Nobel-prize winning physicist proposed the idea of "time crystals": an open, ground state system that breaks time translational symmetry. The name is a little confusing as …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me


    now all the hippies will want them to do their chakras and chants with.

    Where are the Dilithium crystals though? That's the real question scientists should be answering.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Great

      I just asked a friend. He said "No way, man. Time's just an illusion caused by a lack of weed. Besides, crystals, chackras and chants are for new-agers and other posers separating fools from their money." He can be quite lucid when helping to pull bacon out of the smokehouse at 3AM ;-)

      1. Oengus

        Re: Great

        What were you using to smoke the bacon? That might explain why he was lucid...

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Great

          Smoke was fresh twigs off a gravenstein apple tree, set on red oak for coals. It's spring, the sap is running in the apple, makes for a nice sweet flavo(u)r. Usually I use a mix of seasoned white oak for coals and green manzanita for smoke.

    2. SquidEmperor

      Re: Great

      Misread instructions on chant. Now have large black spider on my back.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Great

        And what were you smoking, Squid?

  2. hplasm

    How many Time Crystals are required... make a Time Cube?

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: How many Time Crystals are required...

      Sorry, I don't have enough time to compute that just now.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: How many Time Crystals are required...

        Each one will earn you 5 seconds in the dome...

        1. DuncanL

          Re: Each one will earn you 5 seconds in the dome...

          Start the fans, please!

    2. Bucky 2

      Re: How many Time Crystals are required...

      2 sides on a line

      4 sides on a square

      6 sides on a cube

      I'd say 8 sides on a time crystal.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How many Time Crystals are required...

        > 4 sides on a square

        > 6 sides on a cube

        6 faces on a cube, maybe, but I'd argue there were 12 edges involved. So does a square have 4 edges and 1 face or 2? What is a side anyhow? I'm getting confused now :)

  3. jake Silver badge

    The real question is:

    Will time crystals speed up or slow down the curing of bacon? WE MUST BE TOLD!

    1. 0laf
      Thumb Up

      Re: The real question is:

      You're speaking for the silent masses there brother!

  4. M7S

    "A state of perpetual motion"

    Haven't we already got machines for that sort of thing?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: "A state of perpetual motion"

      As the actress said to the bishop.

  5. John 110

    Right, I need... get me some of those for my flux capacitor


    I wondered what made my time trousers so...

    .... uncomfortable. Now I know.

  7. Alistair

    Time crystals.

    --- If I invoke the time crystals in my Slowlaris system does it get faster?

  8. Eclectic Man Silver badge


    So, I got 'diamonds' and 'nitrogen' (a friend told me it is easier to make diamonds in a Nitrogen atmosphere, but then you get Nitrogen embedded in the diamond), and 'lasers'.

    The rest was, well, I'll just finish watching Zardoz shall I?

  9. Mystic Megabyte


    I had that after eating some bad chicken in Egypt!

    Mines the one with a bottle of kaolin and morphine in the pocket.

  10. DropBear

    You're welcome (and not wrong) to call me stupid all you want, but how exactly does that bit work about spinning things radiating energy? How soon are we expecting to need to push-start Earth...? What exactly are we radiating, protons? Photons? Happy Thoughts?

    1. DJO Silver badge

      OK, you're stupid!

      Actually rather than "stupid", you've been misled by this specific use of the word "spin" - In (sub-atomic) physics "spin" is a measure of angular momentum and not a matter of simply turning.

    2. Rich 11

      but how exactly does that bit work about spinning things radiating energy?

      Because a rotating charged object is accelerating and thus emits synchrotron radiation.

  11. Bucky 2

    Another stupid question

    Okay. I get that they've added energy to a system. The doped crystal produces a beautiful interference pattern in the ground states of the dopant. It sounds extremely cool.

    I don't get how "time crystal" describes the oscillation, though. It had an initial condition that wasn't in oscillation. So it is not permanent in time in the minus-t direction.

    I'm pretty sure these scientists are a whole lot smarter than me, so what am I missing?

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: Another stupid question

      The fact that it transitions according to its own time scale. This opens a whole plethora of interesting concepts regarding proof of various universal constants.

      Or someone screwed up the stopwatch.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Another stupid question

        Indeed the resonance is independent of the excitation frequency. I think. Isn't that what they said? Isn't that just the basis of a quartz oscillator, though?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Dave 32

    Morin Transition

    Sounds sort of like a Morin Transition, only using laser radiation rather than thermal radiation (phonons) to excite the system.


    P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the pocket full of Hematite.

  13. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

    Authoritative source

    I know a Doctor who could explain all this quite clearly, except he doesn't seem to be around...

    ...wait a minute, there seems to be a Police Call Box in my front yard...brb

    // coat, of course...

  14. Stevie


    Still don't know what this "time crystal" is. Article should be used for a wikipedia page.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's nothing to Bragg* about.

    * X-ray diffractionalists will get the (poor) joke.

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    I'll start with a course of "who?", "what?", "why?", "where?" and "why?"

    with a big side order of "how"?

    I understand the words, it's just the sentences they make I'm having trouble with.

    Someone has learned something potentially quite useful?

    1. Oengus

      Re: I'll start with a course of "who?", "what?", "why?", "where?" and "why?"

      What happened to "When"? Oh, wait, it disappeared because we are talking about Time Crystals...

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        "What happened to "When"?"

        That's for dessert.

  17. FIA Silver badge

    I read this entire article, and apart from... "laser"... I'm not sure I understood a single word.

    it wasn't helped by my subconscious inserting Jean-Claude Van Damme every time I read 'time crystal'.

    Worse thing is I've still not quite figured out why.

  18. EBG

    someone please explain

    I've yet to read anything about this that explains or justifies the "time crystal" label. The texts refer to periodicities in the responses of the system to stimulation. This is generally not uncommon in physics.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: someone please explain

      It's to excite people, generate page hits, and distract the masses from the absurdities going on in the world while the rich continue to take over all aspects of life as they try to convince us it's for our own good.

      HTH :)

  19. Chris Hexter

    Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra

    My universal translator appears to be malfunctioning, I really haven't the slightest idea what all of that means :-(

  20. Tom Paine

    Let me be completely clear about this, Brian...


    1. Dan 10

      Re: Let me be completely clear about this, Brian...

      I'm rather cheered to see a number of comments in this general direction. I usually enjoy reading about physics, but this one lost me.

  21. adam 40 Silver badge

    time crystals aren’t real crystals - they don’t melt

    Iodine is a real crystal, and it doesn't melt either.

    It's just soooo sublime, daarling!!!

    Also - at it's a cubic crystal lattice, maybe it's the "time cube" referred to above?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. "The Doctor"

    Fascinating stuff indeed.

    I suggested recently that in the light of anomalous lifetimes of NV in diamond perhaps large diamonds could store data for long (read millenia) periods.

    Perhaps that strange scintillation is actually ancient photons being released from within the NV's stimulated by ambient solar radiation interacting with them releasing the metastable state.

    Sort of a larger scale of what happens with glow in the dark sheet, in fact I tested this and found detectable patterns (if kept in total darkness) weeks later even at room temperature.

  23. Zangetsu

    how about calling it something other than TIME CRYSTAL ?

    since that name is disingenuous.

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