Wired relays top scientists’ plan to build a microscopic “time crystal,” a structure within which time would not be continuous:
In February 2012, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek decided to go public with a strange idea: Impossible as it seemed, Wilczek had developed an apparent proof of “time crystals” — physical structures that move in a repeating pattern without expending energy or ever winding down.
Unlike clocks or any other known objects, time crystals derive their movement not from stored energy but from a break in the symmetry of time, enabling a special form of perpetual motion.
The idea came to Wilczek in 2010: “I was thinking about the classification of crystals, and then it just occurred to me that it’s natural to think about space and time together,” he said. “So if you think about crystals in space, it’s very natural also to think about the classification of crystalline behavior in time.”
When matter crystallizes, its atoms spontaneously organize themselves into the rows, columns and stacks of a three-dimensional lattice.