The Galilean imperative: A physicist's search for understanding 2 - Toward the physics of life itself

Date

10-30-2013

Time

7:30–9 p.m.

Location

Presidents Hall, Franklin Hall

Description

Experiments have uncovered many of the mechanisms at work in the machinery of life, but there still is no theoretical framework that ties these discoveries together. A hint about how to construct such a theory comes from the fact that many biological systems operate very near the limits of what the laws of physics allow: from bacteria navigating toward a source of food to the optics of an insect’s eye, from decision-making by cells in a developing embryo to aspects of human perception, important aspects of life’s mechanisms are nearly as good they can be, in a sense that physics makes precise. This proximity to perfection provides us with the ingredients for a theoretical physics of life, and I will explore this idea, hopefully providing an appreciation for some of life’s most striking and surprising phenomena.

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