New streetlights for solving complex, non- linear problems in biology and medicine: The potential for the unbounded expansion of physics and engineering into the life sciences and medicine

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15 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 10 μήνες)

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New streetlights for solving complex, non
-
linear problems in biology and medicine: The
potential for the unbounded expansion of
physics and engineering into the life
sciences and medicine

John Wikswo, Vanderbilt University


In his famous 1943 “What is lif
e?” lectures and subsequent book, Erwin Schrodinger
mused that “present day physics and chemistry could not possibly account for what
happens in space and time within a living organism.” Max Delbruck created the field of
molecular biology while searching f
or complementarity in biology. Today, chemistry,
physics, and biology become indistinguishable in the heterogeneous and molecularly
crowded nanoenvironments inside a cell. The relevant new science includes, among
many other topics, non
-
linear dynamics, sel
f
-
organization, stochastic control, complexity
theory, and the suite of interactions associated with molecular recognition. Before one
can account for these phenomena, one first has to recognize that they exist and quantify
their roles. The great strides m
ade in biology since Delbruck and Schrodinger have
benefited from development of not only techniques for the genetic manipulation of life
but also a myriad of instruments to measure the composition, structure, and function of
biological molecules, organell
es, and cells. These instruments serve as the streetlights
that illuminate the field. This talk will address a subset of the unbounded opportunities
presented as physical scientists and engineers devise new tools for searching where there
is not yet suffic
ient light to understand biology and medicine.