Place: 1003 Engineering Centers Building (Tong Auditorium)
Speaker: Robert Austin, Princeton
Abstract: Outside the ivied halls of the academy, Darwinian evolution and competition puts an enormous selection pressure on organisms. Although physicists tend to think of bacteria as being rather simple entities living rather solitary and brief lives, our experience has been that under high stress complex environments and at high concentrations they initiate complex, cryptic signaling and information exchange whose purposes we at this point can only guess at. I’ll present experiments showing the complexity of the signals that bacteria exchange under stress, and try to provide some sort of a model to understand the purposes of this emergent collective behavior.