'Time Crystals' Are The One Cool Science-y Thing You'll Care About This Year

'Time Crystals' Are The One Cool Science-y Thing You'll Care About This Year
PHOTO: ELENABELOZOROVA/GETTY IMAGES

Gather 'round, curious truth-seekers- we've got a little dose of very cool news out of the science world to share with you.

Take yourself back to third grade or so. You're no longer eating glue, but not yet jaded, either. You're probably wearing some hilarious primary colors if you're a '90s kid, and your hair is most likely in pigtails or a bowl cut that you had for four to seven years too long. It probably smells like   crayons in this memory. Are you there yet? Cool. 

Now, remember one of the first principles of physics you learn: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton's third law is normally illustrated is with a pendulum. One ball lifts up, is dropped, and the force from the drop then causes the ball on the opposite end to fly up. This goes back and forth, back and forth, until there's no longer enough momentum for the motion to persist, right? Turns out, there's new form of matter scientists are calling "time crystals" that doesn't adhere to these rules. 

Time crystals work a bit differently. If you were to try the same lift-and-drop motion with one time crystal, two balls on the opposite end would fly up! Gizmodo also offers up a great explanation:

"If you’re jumping rope, you expect a rotation every time the person holding the rope’s hand spins. These time crystals have taken on a mind of their own—the rope makes a full circle, or the spins cycle, for every two times your hands spin." Wild!

All of this is attributed to "spin." 

“Particles have an innate quantum mechanical property called ‘spin’ related to magnetism, which in the case of these crystals, has two different values,” two different groups reported in the Nature journal. “The values all align, and swap back and forth at the time crystal’s preferred tempo.”

What does all of this mean? Basically, when you feed time crystal particles just a little bit of force, they'll match each other's spin and begin to match each other on spin and switch it up to align with their own time frame! Uproxx says it succinctly: "...with time crystals, for every action, there is not an equal and opposite reaction."

So why are we nerding out so hard about this? First off, this means that there are most likely undiscovered particles of matter out there! Secondly, this means that the way we've thought about time has been rocked by these little guys that defy the laws of physics. This new form of matter takes time and warps it in a way that scientists have not yet seen, opening up a world of possibility for new discoveries, and new  ways of looking at previous studies from the past. We think that's pretty cool.

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