Skip to comments.Proposed 4-dimensional crystal clock to keep perfect time even after the heat death of the universe
Posted on 09/25/2012 12:21:39 PM PDT by LibWhacker
Scientists say that a perpetual motion machine is physically impossible, but a research team at the University of California Berkeley has just outlined an idea that comes pretty damn close. By proposing a 4D "space-time crystal," the engineers have designed a device that would operate at its lowest quantum energy state and exhibit a clock-like persistence that would theoretically exist even after the universe is exhausted of all its energy, the so-called heat death.
Normally, crystals are comprised of atoms that are arranged in an orderly, repeating three-dimensional pattern. Earlier this year, however, MIT's Nobel-prize winning physicist Frank Wilcze outlined the concept of a crystal that could extend into the fourth dimension, that of time. But while he mathematically proved that such a device could exist, he wasn't exactly clear on how to build such a thing.
That's where an international team of scientists led by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory come in. Mechanical engineer Xiang Zhang and his team have proposed an experimental design of a space-time crystal based on two basic principles: An electric-field ion trap, and the Coulomb repulsion of particles that carry a similar electrical charge. Simply put, it's a four-dimensional crystal that features a periodic structure in time as well as space.
Speaking through a release, Zhang describes how it works:
The electric field of the ion trap holds charged particles in place and Coulomb repulsion causes them to spontaneously form a spatial ring crystal. Under the application of a weak static magnetic field, this ring-shaped ion crystal will begin a rotation that will never stop. The persistent rotation of trapped ions produces temporal order, leading to the formation of a space-time crystal at the lowest quantum energy state.
Essentially, this 4D space-time crystal would consist of a physical object with regular periodic atoms that are moving in a regular, periodic pattern. They would move forever and with no external input. To create a clock out of such a device, the developers would have to create a circular arrangement of regularly ordered atoms that would orientate to the same location at fixed intervals. The researchers are suggesting this could work by trapping a cloud of beryllium ions working inside a magnetic field, thus forcing them into a circular pattern.
Now while it might seem that way, the device is not a perpetual motion machine. Because it's functioning at the lowest quantum energy state, there is no energy output.
In terms of other applications, the conceptual breakthrough will allow Zhang and his team to study how complex physical properties and behaviors emerge from the collective interactions of large numbers of individual particles. The 4D crystal could also be used in quantum mechanics to study such phenomena as entanglement.
The entire study can be ready at Physical Review Letters.
Other sources: PopSci. Image: UC Berkeley.
our tax money at work!
we will get more out of this “after the universe ends” clock than we have gotten out of the last $5 TRILLION dollars BHusseinO has borrowed/spent/stolen in our names.
Prepare to pay and pay and pay and pay and pay all this money back.
Maybe until “after the universe ends...”
Then we (or our ghosts?) can maybe make use of this wonderful clock we’ve paid for.
What goes around, comes around?
Useless. If you can’t take any energy out of it, you can’t synchronize an external chronometer to it.
Mental masturbation but interesting none the less.
I think it’s more like a (classical analog) clock that runs perfectly forever, but has no hands.
I’ve had one of these for a while, and they are pretty accurate.
So, your the one that stole it from me.
It will exist as an eternal monument to the folly of those who are deluded into believing that the created can be the measure of The Creator.
Yeah. It work good too.
Can you send me the instruction manual and the box? I need to sell it before I lose my house in November to some darn Mormon.
Berserkeley is so practical.
Now, if they could learn to operate the state without electricity blackouts instead of worrying about operating after the death of the universe...
I was under the impression that every physical object in the universe existed in the fourth dimension.
Just don’t jump in the pool with it or its back to the physics lab to have it worked on.
Doesn’t Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle mean that we can only read such a clock by upsetting its perfect timing? It might be a perpetual clock, but it would be so fragile that the first person to look at it would cause it to shatter. Besides a clock requires two components: an oscillator to emit time ticks and an accumulator to count them. This is half a clock at best, an oscillator. Without an accumulator to count the ticks, its worthless. The first tick you count is the last one it emits.
At the “heat death” of the universe, there is no energy available to do work. Everything is at the same energy level - zero. Everything is at the same temperature. Nothing is moving.
So this thing would stop too, just like everything else.
“The electric field of the ion trap holds charged particles in place and Coulomb repulsion causes them to spontaneously form a spatial ring crystal. Under the application of a weak static magnetic field, this ring-shaped ion crystal will begin a rotation that will never stop. The persistent rotation of trapped ions produces temporal order, leading to the formation of a space-time crystal at the lowest quantum energy state.”
B.S. The damn thing will quit one day after the warrenty expires just like everything else.
I need something like this, help me get to work on time and stuff
I already see a problem with this design. The “lasts forever” concept relies on a magnetic field which will NOT last forever.
Were they talking about a magentic field to initiate the process. It’s not clear. I think they mean that once started, it will “go forever”.
I’d like to see how they verify that.
I would rather all research like this were privately done unless there is military potential but as long as we are going to spend tax money I’d rather it go to something like this than to pay for twinkies and soda pop at the convenience store or lottery tickets as I see so many people doing in my town.
Heat death occurs when t=infinity. Thus the clock wouldwork forever.
Also the universe is expanding, heat death does not equal no motion.
“Because it’s functioning at the lowest quantum energy state, there is no energy output.”
Ummm... what about radioactive decay? Just because something is at its lowest energy state doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever. Everything breaks down eventually.
Isn’t any clock a “crystal in time”? It’s periodic, after all.
“Useless. If you cant take any energy out of it, you cant synchronize an external chronometer to it.”
Worse than that: it is impossible to read it in any way.
Being at ground state, it will not emit even one photon.
Furthermore, if you view it in any way, you will break it permanently.
And even if you want to use it as a “once-only” device knowing you will break it, there is no way to know how many cycles it has suffered, and I can imagine no way to accomplish that short of having an infinite number of such devices and reading them simultaneously.
You are exactly right.
Anyone who likes this kind of thinking will just loooove the book “Permutation City”. Wild stuff man.
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