Grand questions unanswered (14th of March 2013)

On Wednesday, 6th of March 2013, in Jožef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana, I held a lecture entitled "Some physics of viruses and the grand questions still unanswered". They have a beautiful lecture hall at the institute and great equipment for recording of the lectures. There is also a cameraman at the top of the hall who follows the lecturer during the lecture. That is how the video in the window above was made. You can stream if from YouTube by clicking on the arrow (play).

I created the video I uploaded to YouTube by combining the recorded video of the lecture and my slides, but on the >> portal, they have a more advanced way to simultaneously show the lecture and the slides. >> Here is how it looks like on the example of my lecture.

On the >> portal one can also find >> the archive of the colloquia held at Jožef Stefan Institute, but also a huge number of other lectures.

Below I bring the abstract of my lecture which was printed on the posters announcing the lecture:

Seventy years after Schrodinger asked „What is life?“ we know that life is something related to information. But how „non-living“ matter became imbued with information is even a toughest question than the one Schrodinger asked. Most life is complicated, yet there are reasonably simple information-rich complexes that combine the two hallmark molecules of life i.e. DNA (or RNA) and protein – viruses. Viruses have something to do with life, since they propagate, adapt and change (evolve) only in „living matter“, yet whether they themselves are alive or not is not a resolved issue. Thus, they present a system perfectly suited for a physicist interested in questions of biology, since she/he can at least pretend to be studying some sort of a macromolecular complex, not really that different from e.g. microtubule, which is almost certainly not alive. Yet, even such poor-physicist-minded studies do eventually lead to questions that biologists typically ask, such as „What is it good for?“ or „How did it arise in the first place?“. I will illustrate one possible path from the physical studies of virus structure and energetics to these, biologically relevant questions. The particular path will be the one I walked through in my studies of viruses. These include the studies of virus shapes and elasticity, the electrostatic interactions in viruses, and the influence of physical interactions in viruses on their (dis)assembly.

Concerning the visual aspect of this story, a lot of it has already been shown on the pages of "Construction of Reality", and I intend to devote a special post to the part which is new, once the paper is published. Visualizations of structures made of sp2 carbon may also be interesting - these are parallel to the structured of virus capsids and geodesic domes. I wrote a text about it some time ago which you can >> download from ArXiv. Below I bring a slide from the lecture which shows gigantic icosahedral fullerenes and Fuller's geodesic dome.

gigantic icosahedral fullerenes and Fuller's geodesic dome

And below is another slide dealing with the geometry of sp2 carbon. I investigated these shapes in my paper >> Energies of sp2 carbon shapes with pentagonal disclinations and elasticity theory.

shapes made of sp2 carbon

Last updated on 14th of March 2013.