'Time Crystals' Could Upend Physicists' Theory of Time
Physicists plan to create a “time crystal” — a theoretical object that moves in a repeating pattern without using energy — inside a device called an ion trap. Image: Hartmut Häffner In February 2012, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek decided to go public with a strange and, he worried, somewhat embarrassing idea. “Most research in physics is continuations of things that have gone before,” said Wilczek, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wilczek’s idea met with a muted response from physicists. Now, a technological advance has made it possible for physicists to test the idea. A Crazy Concept The idea came to Wilczek while he was preparing a class lecture in 2010. When matter crystallizes, its atoms spontaneously organize themselves into the rows, columns and stacks of a three-dimensional lattice. The Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek often develops outlandish theories that eventually enter the mainstream. The Big Test
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