Scientists may one day be able to destroy viruses by mathematically determining the frequencies at which they can be shaken to death.
All objects have resonant frequencies at which they naturally vibrate. But too much vibration can destroy the object. Recent experiments have shown that laser pulses tuned to the right frequency can kill certain viruses. However, at present, locating these resonant frequencies is a trial and error task.
Researchers are hard at work developing methods to calculate the vibrational motion of every atom in a virus shell. From this, they can determine the lowest resonant frequencies. For example, the satellite tobacco necrosis virus resonates strongly around 60 Gigahertz (60 billion cycles per second).
It is unlikely that viruses will be able to develop resistance to mechanical shaking, as they do to drugs.
Live Science February 5, 2008