Physics at Virginia

"The Physics of Life"

William Bialek , Princeton University
[Host: Marija Vucelja]

In the four hundred years since Galileo, the physics community has constructed a remarkably successful mathematical description of the world around us.  From deep inside the atomic nucleus to the structure of the universe on the largest scales, from the flow air over the wing of an airplane to the flow of electrons in a computer chip, we can predict in detail what we see, and what will happen when we look in places we have never looked before.  What are the limits to this predictive power?  In particular, can we imagine a theoretical physicist’s approach to the complex and diverse phenomena of the living world?  Is there something fundamentally unpredictable about life, or are we missing some deep theoretical principles that could bring the living world under the predictive umbrella of physics?  Exploring this question gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we expect from our scientific theories, and on many beautiful phenomena.  I hope to leave you with a deeper appreciation for the precision of life’s basic mechanisms, and with optimism about the prospects for better theories. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018
7:00 PM
Chemistry , Room 402
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Hoxton Lecture

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