Infinite battery backup not included

I’ll bet someone’s working on a story about this even now:

Researchers have now proposed an experimental design for a “space-time crystal” that would be able to keep time forever. This four-dimensional crystal would be similar to conventional 3D crystals, which are structures, like snowflakes and diamonds, whose atoms are arranged in repeating patterns. Whereas a diamond has a periodic structure in three dimensions, the space-time crystal would be periodic in time as well as space.

Eternal clocks! How do they work?

[T]he scientists would aim to create a ring of charged particles, with the resulting electromagnetic forces causing the structure to rotate perpetually. At its lowest quantum-energy state, also known as its ground state, the system has no disorder, or entropy, and there is no way for its entropy to increase over time. Thus, the crystal’s temporal structure and timekeeping ability would continue even after the universe reached a state of “heat death,” also known as thermodynamic equilibrium, when it had devolved into entropy.

Alfred Centauri finds this concept just slightly risible:

[E]ven if we allow for the possibility that the universe, which is everything, could cease to exist, there would be nothing. If in fact, there is anything, including an alleged eternal clock, then there is something and thus a universe in which it exists.

Star Trek: The Next Generation agrees, obliquely:

Dr. Crusher: Computer, what is the nature of the universe?
Computer: The universe is a spheroid region, 705 meters in diameter.

If the clock is all there is, the universe must be the clock, n’est-ce pas?

Still, I predict that (1) there will be a story and (2) somehow Twilight Sparkle will be involved.

(While I was finishing this up, WordPress was suggesting tags. Somehow tagging something “universe” seems illogical; shouldn’t everything be tagged “universe”?)


  1. Matt Navarre »

    26 September 2012 · 11:58 pm

    Twilight Sparkle might not be involved, but there’s a TARDIS junkyard beyond the end of the universe. And, no, don’t ask me how that’s possible. But the Time Vortex contains all of space and time and every TARDIS has a part of the vortex in it…

  2. McGehee »

    27 September 2012 · 6:42 am

    A time crystal that can outlast heat death would effectively rule out at least one form of cyclical-universe model, and here’s why: if something can exist, in a sufficiently vast universe it will exist. If a time crystal that can outlast heat death can exist, its existence would ensure that even heat death won’t lead to the end of that universe, thus preventing its rebirth as a successor universe.

    Instead, pan-existence must be dotted with myriad tiny universe-gravestones containing nothing but these immortal time crystals.

  3. nightfly »

    27 September 2012 · 3:24 pm

    Where are the Vice-Presidential Action Rangers when you need them?

    I’ll tell you where they aren’t – THE UNIVERSE.

  4. KingShamus »

    27 September 2012 · 4:50 pm

    “Eternal clocks! How do they work?”

    Somewhere, an former Juggalo just smiled.

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