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Physics Colloquium – Peter M. Hoffmann
November 22, 2019 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Peter M. Hoffmann Wayne State University
The Physics of Life: Molecular Machines
Living beings are based on nanoscale machinery. This is no accident: the nanoscale is the only length scale at which autonomous, self-constructing machinery is possible. Only at this scale do thermal, electrical, chemical and mechanical energy scales converge. Moreover, this scale is dominated by thermal chaos. These unique circumstances give nanoscale systems the ability to easily transform different types of energy into each other and to self-assemble into ordered structures. Although living cells have taken advantage of the physics of the nanoscale for billions of years, technology is just beginning to exploit the very different rules governing this scale.
In this talk, I will give examples from the mechanical behavior of nanoconfined liquids and the mechanics of single molecules, but the talk will focus on the story of molecular machines, which connect physics to biology and illustrate how life is a game played at the nanoscale. At this tiny scale, thermal noise meets molecular structure and chaos becomes order.