Time Crystal
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Basic Information

Time Crystals are a recently discovered type of matter that, on an atomic level, oscillates and changes in a regular cyclical pattern in time. They have been compared to “jello that never stops jiggling”, because even at its lowest energy state they keep oscillating in predictable rhythmic way. They also break time symmetry, because their motions / vibrations / phases are not symmetrical and thus would not look the same if viewed in reverse. Both of these properties are a way bigger deal in physics than this meager description might suggest.

There’s some buzz that time crystals might be useful in quantum computing, or as a really accurate clock, or possibly even some sort of atomic-scale perpetual motion machine since they do funny things in regards to entropy and the second law of thermodynamics. Time Crystals have been created in a few recent experiments (the first in 2016) and have opened up the field of non-equilibrium physics, but still need more peer-review to verify some of the more exciting claims.


Game and Story Use

  • Could be the phlebotinum or computronium that empowers the superscience, artificial intelligence or other speculative fiction elements of your setting.
  • Bonus style points if it’s used in time-travel technology, such as a time machine.
  • Thanks to New Age notions of Crystal Power, you could probably name-drop time crystals as justification for psychic powers or even magic. I mean, sure, knock yourself out.
  • They aren’t necessarily going to look like normal crystals, and the initial experiments were on a tiny scale of individual atoms… but given the name, that does seem like some low-hanging visual fruit. So, sure, glowing faceted crystals could be the visual motif of your time crystal tech. Why not?
  • If you want to sound nerdy and eccentric, you could now call all normal crystals by the term "space crystals". If nothing else, that might be a fun characterization quirk.
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