Speaker: L. Mahadevan (Harvard University)
The growth and form of a soft solid pose a range of problems that combine aspects of mathematics, physics and biology. I will discuss some examples of growth and form in the plant and animal world motivated by qualitative and quantitative biological observations. The problems include the shape of a polymerizing microtubule, and that of a freely growing pollen tube, the undulating fringes on a leaf or petal, and the loops in the vertebrate gut. In each case, we will see how a combination of biological and physical experiments, mathematical models and simple computations allow us to unravel the basis for the diversity and complexity of biological form, while suggesting a rich new lode of problems in geometry and analysis.