Edited by Dava Sobel

Time crystals could soon escape the laboratory.
These quantum systems made of time and light
are potential fugitives into our reality.

By shining twin laser beams piped
into a tiny disk-shaped crystal cavity
this new class of matter was created unexpectedly.

Detected by emitted luminosity,
they spin and oscillate to the same height
repeating to the same frequency—
like ticking clocks with a predictable periodicity,
but patterned across time, invisible to sight.

These structures from quantum impracticality,
inherent crystalline metronomes might
migrate into our future time-keeping technology.

Author’s Note: A cento, from the Latin for “patchwork,” is a collage poem composed of lines from other sources. This poem borrows phrases from a Scientific American article entitled “Time Crystals Made of Light Could Soon Escape the Lab,” by Karmela Padavic-Callaghan.