Physics Colloquium: Jeremy England

Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Huntington Hall (10-250)

Speaker: Jeremy England, MIT

Title: "No Turning Back: The Nonequilibrium Statistical Thermodynamics of becoming (and remaining) Life-Like"

Abstract: There are certain, specific behaviors that are particularly distinctive of life.  For example, living things self-replicate, harvest energy from challenging environmental sources, and translate experiences of past and present into actions that accurately anticipate the predictable parts of their future.  What all of these activities have in common from a physics standpoint is that they generally take place in the far-from-equilibrium regime, where dissipation drives strong dynamical irreversibility.  We have therefore sought to understand the emergence and persistence of life-like phenomena in fluctuating, classical many-body systems by proving and applying general results in nonequilibrium statistical mechanics.  How fast are self-replicators allowed to grow, and when do they spontaneously emerge?  How much energy must a chemical network harvest to sustain itself away from equilibrium, and when can it learn to do so through self-organization? We report recent progress in tackling these questions and others using theory and simulation. 

The David and Edith Harris Physics Colloquium Series
The MIT Department of Physics hosts a weekly colloquium on Thursdays from 4:00 - 5:00pm during the spring and fall semesters.  A pre-colloquium social is held at 3:30 in room 4-349.

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physics, science, biophysics




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