Ok...this one got me. I'm over at phys.org reading up on symmetries. I know a little bit about it and its a no-brainer that if you remove all energy from a system everything comes to a standstill, equilibrium. In a superconducter cooled to near absolute zero all motion stops, electrons do not move. They used yttrebium ions, atoms stripped of their electrons, lined up in what they called a 'conga line'. Two lasers were used to 'excite' one ion, changing its spin properties. This change then propagated down the line. Not unusual as they were all 'entangled', meaning that these ions shared similar properties, being created at the same time.
In a crystal lattice all atoms are in lockstep, they all face the same direction, like a magnet. Magnets are natural symmetry breakers in that one side is positive, the other negative. But magnets have energy in them, duh. Crystals have none unless they are acted upon. Certain crystals, when sqeezed, produce piezoelectricity. You're forcing the atoms to contract, electrons jump to a different energy state and emit a photon in the process.
In the beginning of the article they mention ions. Put enough of them together and you got plasma, a very high energy state of matter. Individual ions in a 'line' retain the same properties of the plasma but on a minute scale. On that scale you're able to measure the different properties. This is quantum scale and there things get weird. In a nutshell you can't know anything about anything unless you're lookin' at it! Taking some kind of measurement.
Everyone knows that a line represents one dimension but...there are actually two dimensions. We live in a three dimensional world, length height and depth. We also have another dimension...time. We live in four dimensions, three physical, one temporal. So if you have length you still have time because it always takes a finite amount of time to traverse the line, move along it. Now keeping in mind that ions on a larger scale represents a plasma. That plasma still exists along that line, ions are particles and particles share a dual nature. They are both particle and wave at the same time. That's only because they whiz around so fast in such a tiny area that all you see is a blur. If you want to see what's making it you have to look at it (don't blame me, blame Heisenberg). In order for you to see it a photon has to hit it and bounce back to your eye. Photons are light and that lets you see stuff.
Lasers are basically high energy beams of light. Lets label it...A. Lets label the first ion B. A hits B and starts it vibrating, oscillating. Next to ion B is ion C and down the line to n. The wave function of each interferes with the other and it propagates (read 'grows') another no-brainer. My theory is this...all things that are at equilibrium have potential, meaning this is what they can do with what they have, Einstein said so. I think that each ion's potential is added to the potential of the one next to it and so on down the 'line'. At the end of the line that potential has to go somewhere to conserve energy. So where's it gonna go? To the first one in the line because...there ain't no more after the end. That's why they say it's perpetual. It just keeps on going. The only energy that does exist is the energy you first put into it.
As far beaking time symmetry...there are two measurements that were made, Planck distance and Planck time. They represent the smallest measurable values of time and distance. All particles do their thing 'inside of' these two values. The interaction between the ions have to take place 'inside of', even the one at the end of the line. The pulse or nudge as it was called in the article, has to move all the way back to the first 'inside of' these values. So...ergo...time symmetery is broken, kinda. There's still that 'finite' amount of time to do all that. But because of the scale of the system this would appear to take no time at all. The only problem I see is that once the laser is turned off the system will revert back to equilibrium, or it should because you're not putting anything more into it.
To make a too long story very short...perpetual motion is not allowed according to our present understanding of how things work. Breaking time symmetry IMO simply means that you're able to control each moment before and after, cause and effect, at the same time.
*uvah's physics 101*