By: April Carson
Who would have thought that the answer to unlocking mysterious time crystals could be found in an everyday compound found not only in fertiliser, but also those crystal-growing kits marketed towards children? Yet here we are - captivated by this discovery.
The Yale physicists who made the discovery of monoammonium phosphate (MAP) are perplexed, as this finding opens up inquiries about how time crystals can emerge at all. This could have implications for our understanding of time itself, as the crystals often appear to move in mysterious ways. It's an exciting development and one that will no doubt bring newfound curiosity to the world of physics.
Ordinary crystals are composed of organized atoms that form a fixed grid structure, similarly to the atomic lattice found in diamonds and quartz. Although these arrangements may diverge in design, they remain static; repeating spatially but not temporally.
Time crystals, however, achieve a repeating pattern in time as well. MAP achieves this by undergoing a cyclic process involving its individual atoms; where one atom moves to the next position on the lattice before returning to its original place. Scientists are now beginning to appreciate that these low entropy systems may have implications for quantum computing and thermodynamics.
At first glance, these crystals appear to be ordinary. However, when exposed to an electromagnetic pulse that reverses its spin direction - the atoms of the crystal actually start oscillating.
Despite the heart's irregularity, the researchers' termed 'time crystal ticking' cycles with a steady consistency. In addition, this phenomenon has been found to be achievable in children's toys. While the idea of time crystals being derived from everyday objects may seem far-fetched, physicists believe that this discovery could potentially revolutionize quantum computing and thermodynamics as we know it.
Although still not well-known, discrete time crystals (DTCs) have only been seen once before in a solid crystal when scientists from Harvard created one using nitrogen-vacancy diamond.
In 2016, a breakthrough experiment at the University of Maryland showed us that time crystal behaviour could be present in ytterbium atoms. Now, Yale researchers have found their own unique time crystal – different from both previous experiments yet equally as impactful.
This time, the team has discovered time crystals in ordinary children's toys. The novel discovery could hold a great promise for future applications of DTCs and may even revolutionize our understanding of quantum mechanics.
Growing MAP crystals is incredibly easy, and thus instructions and kits to do so can easily be found online. Its abundance makes it a surprisingly ideal place for discovering time crystal signatures. It was once believed that such signatures could only exist in more disorganized surroundings - however this has been proven wrong.
To their surprise, the scientists knew immediately upon conducting nuclear magnetic resonance tests on monoammonium phosphate crystals that time crystal signatures were present - even in a highly ordered spatial crystal. "Our measurements appeared quite remarkable from the start," Barrett said. "We have proposed that it is possible to detect DTCs through something as simple as searching for them inside a kids' crystal growing kit."
Time crystals represent an astounding potential for a variety of practical applications. Not only could these unique substances be integrated into our current atomic clocks - the most advanced timekeeping mechanisms in existence - but they might also facilitate even more precise methods to measure time than we have ever seen before.
This discovery is also an evolution in our understanding of the physics of time. By studying this phenomenon, researchers are beginning to gain insights into the complex nature of thermodynamics and quantum mechanics that could never have been obtained through observation alone.
Gyroscopes and atomic clocks utilized in GPS systems could be enhanced, as well as quantum entanglement experiments. Even DARPA is investing heavily into research concerning time crystals with little to no explanation for their interest.
The fact that they can exist in such a mundane and ordinary crystal is exhilarating. But it also presents an enigma; if time crystals can form in orderly spatial arrangements within common ones, physicists must figure out how this occurs - and why more of them don't demonstrate the signs of having a time crystal.
The implications of this are exciting. We may be able to use time crystals to measure and manipulate time more accurately than ever before. This could lead to scientific breakthroughs, as well as engineering advancements that yield a greater understanding of the universe and our place in it. Time crystals could even offer new insights into the mysteries of quantum physics.
With the current theory of discrete time crystals, it is difficult to predict what will be its resolution; however, scientists are projected to tackle this problem for a minimum of several years. As Barrett put it: "It's too early to tell."
In the meantime, these discoveries have opened up a new field of research in physics. By unlocking the secrets of time crystals, physicists may come to better understand quantum mechanics and perhaps even manipulate time itself. It is a truly exciting thought that something as ordinary as toys could contain such extraordinary potential.
Two prestigious journals, Physical Review Letters and Physical Review B, have featured the research.
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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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