(PopularMechanics) Scientists from around the world claim to have harnessed a time crystal inside a quantum computer. If true, their discovery—as outlined in a July 28 pre-print research paper—could change the world virtually overnight with a limitless, rule-breaking source of energy that would bring quantum computers into the now.
A time crystal is a special phase of matter that changes constantly, but doesn’t ever appear to use any energy. This, scientists say, means it violates Isaac Newton’s first law of motion, which deals with inertia—the resistance an object has to a change while in motion. A rolling marble doesn’t stop unless other forces act upon it, for instance. But from experience, you know that it will eventually stop due to forces like friction. If your marble were a time crystal, though, it would literally never stop.
Time crystals, therefore, act more like superconducting materials (such as mercury or lead). Superconductivity is a quantum phenomenon in nature wherein certain materials conduct direct current electricity without any energy loss if they are cooled below a certain temperature.
Time crystals could be a game-changer for quantum computers, which physicists often seen as the natural next step in terms of computing power—they work at the most essential molecular and even particulate level, after all. They also capitalize on ideas like the passage of electrons around solid materials (literally what electricity is!)