Physicists are used to dealing with some of the very weirdest forms of matter and ideas in our known world, from levitating superconducting materials to the mind-bending theory of time dilation. But even for physicists, time crystals are strange.

They might sound like some retro science fiction TV villain's hidden treasure, or perhaps fuel for a Time Lord's TARDIS, but this unusual state of matter is very much a fixture of our reality. Critically, scientists have observed the interaction of these crystals for the first time.

This observation takes scientists a step closer to understanding the strangeness of our world, and also has the potential to "warm-up" quantum computing, making it much cheaper and more accessible.

The interaction is detailed in a study published Monday in the journal Nature Materials.

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