Life, Art and Time Crystals

Coming from a Cornish mining family, not to mention being born at the site of a former tin mine, I’ve always had a fascination for rocks, minerals, and all things crystalline.

With this background, it’s hardly surprising that my novel The Time Crystals features a mine shaft – albeit one harbouring dangerous secrets. Re-released this week with Authors Reach, my time travel adventure for young and young-at-heart adults tells the story of twelve-year-old Clara Callenick, who discovers a time portal on family land and is charged with a desperate mission. To prevent catastrophe, she must stop a power-crazed businessman (the father of her school enemies) from obtaining the mine and stealing its secrets. At stake: not only Clara’s own future, but the fate of the world.


The Time Crystals
 features crystals which cause deadly conflict, since they are vital for the process of time travel. I wrote the first draft way back in 2011, and the term “time crystal” was invented by my young nephew, who was kind enough to read my manuscript and dream up a new title for my book.

I’ve heard it said that life imitates art, but imagine my surprise when, some time after writing this draft, a friend sent me links to articles about a fascinating new discovery in science: Time Crystals!

A bit more about real time crystals…

In 2017 two groups of researchers from Harvard and Maryland Universities reported in the journal Nature that, using theories developed at Princeton, they had successfully created an exotic form of matter once thought to break the laws of physics.

Now, I’m no scientist, but apparently normal crystals—anything from diamonds to snowflakes—have atoms arranged in a repeating three-dimensional lattice. In Time Crystals, however, the atoms repeat a pattern across the fourth dimension, time. They appear to be a closed system, so no energy is lost to the outside world. They also seem to have properties similar to superconductors, so electrons can move without any resistance. This means that, theoretically, they could oscillate forever – an example of perpetual motion, something long thought to contradict the laws of physics!

There are more things in Heaven and Earth …

The way these strange crystals behave has been compared to hitting a piano key twice but getting only one note, or squeezing a sponge regularly but seeing it rebound only once every second squeeze.

The first real time crystal was created from electrically charged atoms of the element Ytterbium. In my novel I’ve used a genuine rock named Luxulyanite for my time crystals, a rare form of granite named after the Cornish village (near my own) where it was discovered. Now, if I’d used Ytterbium—another fabulous name—I’d really start to wonder …

From what I’ve read, the practical applications of actual time crystals are still thought to be far off, but it’s believed they might have a variety of uses, for example in atomic clock technology, imaging and communications, and radar.

Crucially, it’s believed their unique behaviour could help make quantum computing a reality. They could help protect stored information, overcoming one of the greatest obstacles to the widespread use of computers many millions of times faster than the ones we use today. How mind-blowing is that?

So far, I haven’t found anything that suggests these real Time Crystals might be used for time travel. But in the future—who knows!

Meanwhile, if you’d like to read more about Clara and my fictional (!) time crystals, check out my time travel adventure below. It’s available as paperback or ebook, with the ebook priced at just £1.99 in the UK, $2.99 in the US:

Amazon UK: The Time Crystals

Amazon US: The Time Crystals

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