Forget Google search and fuchsia. Researchers from Google, Stanford, Princeton and other universities may have made a computer discovery so vast that we can’t quite grasp it yet. Even Google researchers aren’t quite sure that their discovery of time crystal is valid. But if it’s true, Google may be one of the first companies to give the world a crucial technological advancement for the future. Time crystals will be an essential building block in quantum computers, the kind of computers that can solve complex problems with incredible speed and power technologies that weren’t even invented.
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What is a quantum computer?
Google is not the only business building quantum computers, and this kind of machines be in the news regularly. Quantum computers won’t reach your phone and they won’t play games. Even if they did, Nintendo will completely ignore the latest computer technology when designing future consoles.
As The next web explains, we plan to use quantum computers for challenging problems. Examples include warp drives that can enable fast interstellar travel. And medical technology that could cure virtually any disease.
Earlier this year, Google teamed up with Michael Peña for a quantum computing demo at I/O 2021:
But quantum computers are really hard to build, maintain, and even use. That’s where Google’s time crystals can come into play. As it stands, quantum computers have qubits, computer bits in the quantum world. These qubits behave differently when someone observes them than when they are left alone. That makes it difficult to measure qubit states. And that instability makes using a quantum computer problematic. That’s where time crystals come in.
Google’s Time Crystals
The concept of time crystal, which was theorized in 2012, is a new phase of matter. The next web explains which time crystals contradict one of Sir Isaac Newton’s famous laws. The first law of motion says that “an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion.”
In our universe there is something called high entropy (disorder). Something always happens thanks to energy exchanges. Entropy remains the same when there are no processes, but increases in their presence. But that doesn’t apply to time crystals. They can retain entropy even when used in a process.
To understand Google’s time crystals, The next web offers a great analogy with snowflakes. They have unique designs, as the atoms are arranged in specific ways. Snow falls, melts, water evaporates and then it eventually becomes snow again. All these processes involve energy exchange. A time crystal would be like a snowflake that can switch back and forth between two configurations without power consumption or loss of energy. Time crystals can have their cake and eat it too, and they can do it continuously.
What does it mean to you and me?
Google’s time crystals are not Google’s. Even the Google team isn’t sure if it made them. The study is only available in a pre-printed version as it awaits peer validation.
But if Google found a way to make them, then the next generation of quantum computers could come with time crystals in them. Anyone could make these computers. And they would bring quantum coherence to a place where there is a lot of decoherence – those restless qubits of the past.
Yet we are still in the super early stages of making quantum computers with time crystals. Google may have proven that time crystals aren’t just theoretical, but it certainly didn’t create any.
We may need decades of research into quantum computers to create quantum computers with time crystals to build warp drives or discover “generally effective cancer treatments.” And it will undoubtedly take us decades to properly understand quantum computers and time crystals. Google’s newspaper is available on this link. Moreover, Quanta Magazine also has an in-depth summary of Google’s discovery, complete with an animation of a time crystal.
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