Physics News of the Week: Fighting HIV and Arguments Against Time Crystals

| August 25, 2013 | 1 Comment

As always, let’s review the most important events in the world of physics this week. For more news, visit our news section. Also, if you would like to receive updates through email, register for our email newsletter.

1. Research of Neutrons Aims to Improve HIV Drugs (August 21)

HIV is a dangerous virus, which replicates with the help from the human immune system. In particular, HIV implants genetic information into the immune system’s T-cells, which then produce copies of the virus until they die. Interestingly, physicists are now able to help improving the effectiveness of the HIV drugs through the research of neutrons.

An international team of scientists including Andrey Kovalevsky, Paul Langan and their colleagues has studied a common component of the HIV drug. Using neutron crystallography, scientists found the aspects of the drug component that could be improved to fight HIV more effectively. Read the full report here.

2. Arguments Against Quantum Time Crystals (August 22)

The concept of time crystals has been proposed by Frank Wilczek back in 2012. Quantum  time crystals are theoretical systems, which exhibit periodic oscillations in their ground state.

The peculiarity of the time crystals has made many scientists ask the question whether a moving object could have zero energy. The most obvious answer would seem to be “no” — after all, motion means kinetic energy. However, the behavior of time crystal, as it is believed by some scientists, violates this idea.

To test this idea, scientists at University of California Berkeley have suggested an experiment, which consists of creating a time crystal using charged particles in an ion trap. Such a crystal, according to the scientists at Berkeley, would exhibit the strange behavior of ions rotating indefinitely in the ground state.

The mentioned experimental setup, however, has been heavily criticized by Patrick Bruno from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. Bruno, in his older and new papers published at Physical Review Letters shows that the described experimental setup has two major flaws — the described system is not in its ground state and also such a system would radiate electromagnetic waves. Read the full article here. Also, the arXiv version of the paper can be found here.

3. A New Precision Record by Atomic Clocks (August 23)

US scientists have built two atomic clocks, which are currently the most precise clocks that ever existed. The two clocks were made from the element Ytterbium and are about 10 times more precise than other atomic clocks.

“The stability of the ytterbium lattice clocks opens the door to a number of exciting practical applications of high-performance timekeeping,” says study co-author Andrew Ludlow from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The clocks were built using around 10,000 rare-earth atoms cooled to 10 microkelvin. Read the full article here.

More news:

Quantum Algorithm Could Improve Stealth Fighter Design
Scientific Vandalism Helps ITER
Particle Physics-Inspired Art Installation Opens in London Ice Well



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  1. Thanks for the collection!
    As Bruno, I am also sceptical about the time crystals. Of course a little less educated, but still I believe that the experiment should be rather simple with much less degrees of freedom.

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