[ by Charles Cameron — science fiction & science fact meet — JG Ballard, Kurt Vonnegut, strange matter and a sacramental world ]
Ooh and aah! From Researchers create ‘time crystals’ envisioned by Princeton scientists, Phys Org News, yesterday:
Time crystals may sound like something from science fiction, having more to do with time travel or Dr. Who. These strange materials — in which atoms and molecules are arranged across space and time — are in fact quite real, and are opening up entirely new ways to think about the nature of matter. They also eventually may help protect information in futuristic devices known as quantum computers.
A system in equilibrium cannot be a time crystal, but non-equilibrium systems can be created by periodically poking, or “driving,” a crystal by shining a laser on its atoms.
Two groups of researchers based at Harvard University and the University of Maryland report March 9 in the journal Nature that they have successfully created time crystals using theories developed at Princeton University. The Harvard-based team included scientists from Princeton who played fundamental roles in working out the theoretical understanding that led to the creation of these exotic crystals.
What’s in a name?
If they’d called these whatevers “chronosynclastic infundibula” there’s be less excitement, less funding — but fans of Kurt Vonnegut would have had a quiet chuckle.
But no, they called them “time crystals”. Brilliant, from a PR perspective.
And me? It reminds me of JG Ballard‘s brilliant 1964 short story, The Illuminated Man, which I here juxtapose to the Princeton / Harvard science, in another effort to stitch together the arts and sciences at one of the high arch- points in the nave of what Hermann Hesse called “the hundred-gated cathedral of Mind.”
Some choice quotes:
‘Here in this forest everything is transfigured and illuminated, joined together in the last marriage of time and space.’
Something glittered in the dusk behind me. I turned to see a brilliant chimera, a man with incandescent arms and chest, race past among the trees, a cascade of particles diffusing in the air behind him. I flinched back behind the cross, but he vanished as suddenly as he had appeared, whirling himself away among the crystal vaults. As his luminous wake faded I heard his voice echoing across the frosted air, the plaintive words jewelled and ornamented like everything else in that transmogrified world.
There in the Everglades the transfiguration of all living and inanimate forms occurs before our eyes, the gift of immortality a direct consequence of the surrender by each of us of our own physical and temporal identity. However apostate we may be in this world, there perforce we become apostles of the prismatic sun.
I shall return to the solitary church in that enchanted world, where by day fantastic birds fly through the petrified forest and jewelled alligators glitter like heraldic salamanders on the banks of the crystalline rivers, and where by night the illuminated man races among the trees, his arms like golden cartwheels and his head like a spectral crown.
These places are where all the different kinds of truths fit together as nicely as the parts in your Daddy’s solar watch. We call these places chrono-synclastic infundibula.
Here in this forest everything is transfigured and illuminated, joined together in the last marriage of time and space.
And that brief quote —
There in the Everglades the transfiguration of all living and inanimate forms occurs before our eyes, the gift of immortality a direct consequence of the surrender by each of us of our own physical and temporal identity. However apostate we may be in this world, there perforce we become apostles of the prismatic sun
— that in turn calls to mind Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch’s A Theology of Creation, from which I quoted yesterday in On riding a rapidly accelerating world.. in slower motion:
Absolute personal existence, the Lord as a divine Person, “One of the Holy Trinity,” as our Liturgy says, not only lets himself be contained by the universe at one particular point in space and time, but by realizing at last the vocation of the person, he contains the universe hidden in himself. He does not want, like us, to take possession of the world; he takes it up and offers it in an attitude which is constantly eucharistic. He makes of it a body of unity, the language and flesh of communion.
In him fallen matter no longer imposes its limitations and determinisms; in him the world, frozen by our downfall, melts in the fire of the Spirit and rediscovers its vocation of transparency.