New York researchers wanted to find a fifth state of matter, instead they created a new dimension.
Researchers from Flatiron Institute from Center for Computational Quantum Physics of New York bombarded matter with very high frequency laser pulses. This allowed them to “create” a new dimension. Originally, this experiment was to prove the existence of a hypothetical fifth state of matter. As a reminder, matter is available in its natural state in its solid, liquid or gaseous form. The fourth state, namely plasma, is reserved for the scientific world and can only be observed in an experimental setting.
Close to the gaseous state, plasma is obtained when the atoms that make up matter have dissociated from each other. According to scientists, this stage would not be an end in itself, because a fifth state of matter would exist. To provoke it, it would be necessary to subject the material to even more extreme conditions, something that the researchers tried to do during their experiment.
A fifth state of matter?
But by subduing matter in this way, they actually created a new dimension. As the researchers explain in their article, the universe is made up of 4 dimensions, three of space, and one of time. But in this very specific case, the atoms at the center of the experiment were in a second time dimension, which had different rules from ours.
To achieve such a result, they irradiated the atoms with two lasers. The latter struck with a very particular rhythm, respecting the principles of the Fibonacci sequence, a famous mathematical sequence where each number is the addition of the two preceding it.
The few atoms of Ytterbium subjected to the experiment thus responded to a new temporal symmetry, a phenomenon a priori unprecedented. “The system therefore obtains an extra symmetry from a temporal dimension which does not exist”. For scientists, this discovery is more than astonishing. They must now seek to understand it.
As for the concrete applications that could result from this experience, they could arrive faster than expected. Indeed, the creation of a temporal symmetry would in fact cancel the “margin errors” associated with quantum computing.
quantum computing do a leap forward
Unlike binary computers (made of 0s and 1s), quantum computers communicate in qubits, particles that can be both 0s and 1s (the superposition of states). Starting from there, researchers can build super-powerful computers, but these have the defect of being out of order very often.
Indeed a quantum particle can only be in a state of superposition as long as it does not interact with matter. As soon as a connection between two atoms is made, the magic no longer operates. This is where this second temporal dimension would come into play. If scientists manage to recreate it, they could “freeze” the atoms in time and thus prevent them from interacting with their fellows, thus avoiding the famous margin errors. This solution could therefore make it possible to build stable quantum computers, able to operate without having to be recalibrated, and therefore potentially more reliable than those that exist today.