According to a recently published survey, the quantum computer of google It was used to create a “time crystal”: a new state of matter that defies the laws of thermodynamics. Despite the name, it has nothing to do with time travel – as fans of the Devs or Avengers series might think – but with movement.
For about a decade, scientists theorized for these crystals. They are systems that operate continuously, even if they are unbalanced. Unlike other forms of matter, its atoms are constantly evolving.
But it was never possible to prove their possibility in the real world. The new research, developed by researchers at Google and Princeton and Stanford Universities, among others, says it has achieved what seemed impossible.
The study was presented this week., as a previous publication – that is, it will still go through the peer-review phase, before it is officially published. Therefore, it can still be changed or even refuted.
What is crystal time?
First, we need to understand what a crystal is for physics: an object with atoms arranged to create a repeating pattern (as opposed to, say, a liquid, where molecules are distributed unevenly) forming sequential lattices. They are highly organized structures, like grains of salt or snow.
Now think of a crystal whose pattern does not repeat itself at every specified distance, but at every specified time. That will crystallize time. It is like a constantly beating heart, which does not expend any energy – it breaks the second law of thermodynamics.
Motion is not generated by stored energy, but rather by symmetry breaks in the fluid. This concept was proposed in 2012 by American physicist Frank Wilczek, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics.
A time crystal essentially consists of three main components: First, a row of particles, each with its own magnetic orientation, is trapped in a mixture of different energy configurations. This is known as the “many-body problem”.
Then, the direction of these particles is reversed, resulting in the formation of an inverted copy of each. Finally, there is an application of laser light, which causes states to switch – from normal to mirror and reverse and forward – but without using the energy of the laser itself. The result is known as the time crystal from Flukete, which was proposed in 2016.
Google’s quantum computer, known as Sycamore, used a chip with 20 kibits, or controllable quantum particles, that could maintain two states simultaneously. By adjusting the interaction strength between the kibits, the researchers were able to randomly distribute the interactions and achieve a multi-body state. Then microwaves invert and “reverse” the particles.
It remains unclear exactly what theoretical advances the research has made, or what are the possible applications of time crystal. For now, according to the researchers, this is further evidence of the potential of quantum computers – an innovative technology, which is still being developed.
According to Wilczek, if they were produced, the crystals would allow us to measure time and distance with pinpoint accuracy. They can also revolutionize quantum technology, communications, mining, and even the understanding of the universe.
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