Panel: Physics and Consilience
Édouard Brézin (Chair)
The number of interfaces between physics and other branches of knowledge has grown considerably over the past years. As we know since Galileo, "Nature is a book written in the language of mathematics" , the interpenetration of physics with biology is now more and more evident, and many new areas such as neural networks, algorithmic complexiy, econophysics, sociophysics, have appeared recently. In the round table the four speakers will illustrate this in the areas of life sciences, mathematics, theory of computation and complexity. The speakers will be asked to comment on a few questions such as
- is physics for biology and biologists more than additional tools such as imaging?
- when physicists deal with "living matter" do they bring a different perspective?
- what are the important achievements in the physics/biology interface?
- what are the main problems in which this cross-disciplinary science is important?
- how fertile is the interface between statistical physics, quantum physics and computation?
- what are the new areas in which mathematics and physics travel side by side?
Panel: Interdisciplinary Science by way of some examples
K. R. Sreenivasan (Chair)
Our panel consists of a biologist (MT), two condensed matter theorists (SS and SR), a mathematician (ET) and a fluid dynamicist (KRS). We are “theory heavy” and oriented more towards physical and mathematical sciences. Our panel will accordingly have a bias towards related areas.
The term “interdisciplinary” means that a researcher crosses boundaries across established disciplines to create her own approach that is best suited to the problem on hand. Our panel prefers to illustrate the richness of interdisciplinarity via examples within its own experience, rather than speak about it generally. We hope to be provocative but do not intend to be outrageous.
KRS will introduce the panel and, after making a few broad remarks, will dwell briefly on his recent work on quantum turbulence, which combines the curious properties of superfluidity (“flow without friction”) and classical turbulence in hydrodynamic systems.
Ramaswamy will discuss the richness of interactions between physics and biology from the point of view of his recent work on soft matter far from equilibrium. He will discuss mainly the features of active biological matter, but will also touch on sedimentation and glassy materials---all of which have common elements whose understanding enriches these subjects.
Sachdev will focus on the recent cross-fertilization between condensed matter physics and string theory. The quantum theory of gravity near black holes has turned out to have remarkable connections to problems in many body physics, and analogs of quantum critical points, superconductors, and non-Fermi liquids have been found. This connection has led to new insights in both fields. He will discuss the promise for the future, and also some of the pitfalls.
Tadmor will discuss recent developments of analytical theories and their interplay with computational algorithms for models which involve separation, decomposition and averaging of scales. He will demonstrate the synergy of different points of view from different fields through examples of his recent work on shock waves, kinetic transport, biological flows and image processing.
Thattai will describe recent developments in the field of synthetic biology, which borrows ideas from engineering to construct genetic networks from standardized parts. Over the past few years, researchers around the world have built amplifiers, flip-flops, and even oscillators using a handful of genes inserted into the bacterium Ecoli. He will review these systems, and present his recent work on using engineering principles to build cell-to-cell communication systems.