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Science and Mathematics

From chromatin to COVID: A theoretical physicist’s search for new collective phenomena in living matter

September 24, 2020 at 3:45pm4:45pm EDT

Virtual (See event details)

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The Department of Physics will present a colloquia this week with Physics Associate Professor Jennifer Schwarz.

The physics community continues to make significant contributions to the understanding of matter with the prediction and detection of the Higgs boson and gravitational waves as two recent major examples.  And yet we still do not understand how DNA and its associated proteins, known as chromatin, is organized inside a cell nucleus, with each person containing of order 100 billion neurons (cells) in the brain alone. Nor do we understand how a 100 nanometer-sized particle, known as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, enters a cell to potentially induce COVID-19 in numerous individuals, and therefore, significantly alter the way we interact with each other. Theoretical physics approaches to help unravel these two mysteries will be presented to hopefully motivate even more physicists to contribute to the understanding of living matter and, as it turns out, its intriguing collective properties (and to get ourselves out of this mess of a pandemic).

This event was published on September 18, 2020.

Event Details