Time Crystals

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Recent research at the University of College Park, Maryland, has resulted in the observation of a form of matter that was previously only theorized. This discovery may open up a new basis for understanding the universe, while echoing ancient knowledge. This newly observed form of matter has been called “time crystals” to connote structured patterns of atoms that repeat in both space and time.

Previously, our understanding of matter was that it exists in three basic states: solid, liquid, and gas. In increasing order, these states of matter represent increasing atomic motion, with solid matter being the most “stationary.”

Crystals are a form of solid matter wherein patterns of atoms repeat in space. These repeating patterns lead to beautiful structures, such as snowflakes and emeralds.

Like their traditional cousins, time crystals contain atomic structures that repeat in space. However, time crystals also repeat, or oscillate, their structures over time. This leads to the interesting effect that time crystals can be moving even when they appear to be stationary. The implications of this discovery will likely take decades to unfold.

One thought experiment, inspired by time crystals and various sources of traditional wisdom, is to envision a person’s life as a vibration of a larger, hidden manifold. This manifold could extend in space and time and, in a manner similar to time crystals, connect the “individual” to countless other lives and manifestations – vibrational forms in the past, present, and future.

Many of us have felt a deep intuitive sense of connectedness through some hidden and mysterious substance, and have had specific experiences that reinforce this sense. For example, we might know young children who exhibit behavioral traits and habits that are uncannily similar to distant, sometimes deceased, relatives. These traits might be coincidental or simply projections of living memories, but they are often not readily explained through genetic inheritance. Similarly, many of us have experienced the “doppelganger effect,” seeing someone who bears a remarkable resemblance to ourselves or another person from our past. Time crystals, as an analogy, can give license to rationally minded persons to consider such seeming coincidences more deeply. Questions such as “Am I singular?” and “Am I now vibrating elsewhere?” can take on greater significance.

A greater rational esteem for the felt sense of connectedness, which the time crystal analogy could evoke, could also serve as a foundation for greater empathy. On this foundation, we can stand tall and view our lives as integrated into a greater whole. “My actions affect me even on timescales beyond my current lifetime.”  Such transcendental lines of reasoning reaffirm our Quaker value of unity. And they remind us of the need for a strong Earth ethic, perhaps beyond the notion of “seven generations” – rather, to see all generations as one.

In recent decades, we have had the opportunity, literally, to see ourselves from unprecedented viewpoints. The Apollo moon landings and repeated voyages to the International Space Station have provided us with countless glimpses of our “blue marble.” From the vantage of space, politics and geopolitical divisions disappear. What would it look like on Earth, if we lived daily, as individuals and as a society, with a deep felt sense of interconnection, united not just in the present, but to the ends of time?

We need simple, understandable models to facilitate deep thinking. Such models serve as lenses through which we can gain understanding of the world. When using these tools of thought, we recognize ourselves reflected in everything we experience. We begin to usher in an epoch of Earth stewardship and universal wellbeing. ~~~

Brylie Christopher Oxley is a member of Grass Valley Friends Meeting (PYM) and the webmaster for Western Friend. He came to Quakerism while serving at the Woolman School in Nevada City, California. Brylie currently resides in Tampere, Finland, where he attends the Tampere Worship Group of Finland Yearly Meeting.