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<b>Complex Systems</b><br><i>On Growth and Form: Geometry, Physics and Biology</i>

Tuesday, October 5, 2010
4:00 AM
340 West Hall

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.