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Friday, December 10, 2021
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
East Bridge 201 (Richard P. Feynman Lecture Hall)

Quantum Matter Seminar

Searching for the phonons of living matter
Madhav Mani, Professor, Northwestern University,

Special Biophysics Seminar

What are the collective modes in living matter that bridge the molecularly heterogeneous microscales to the macroscales at which regular form and function emerge? Despite 70 years of paradigm-shifting progress into the molecular basis of life, it is the bridging of these two scales and developing an understanding of the generic statistical properties of the maps between the molecular and functional that remains unresolved. Seen from this point of view, the "More is different" Andersonian vision has still not come to fruition in our study of living matter. Our study of Life remains consumed by the chaos at the microscale and largely divorced from being able to understand, or even study, the emergence of form and function that Life has evolved. I will present two studies where I attempt to pursue this physical view of living matter. The first, focused on a statistical study of the fruit fly's wing and its dynamical origins, and the second, focused on making the first measurements of mechanical stresses during the shaping of an embryo and its collective mechanical modes. Stepping back, I will argue that in the absence of quantitative approaches to revealing and studying the phonons of Living matter we will continue to fall short of grasping its unifying design principles and an understanding of how they evolve.

For more information, please contact Pam Albertson by phone at 626 395 4411 or by email at psa@caltech.edu.