New Horizons in Science

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Not just flocking: “Active matter” studies aim to understand wound healing, metastasis

Monday, October 20, 2014 -
11:00am to 12:00pm

Penguins huddle, wounds heal, mosh pits writhe. Bring together a collection of self-propelled individuals, and you get “active matter”— collective behavior that produces unusual patterns and drives many of the processes important to life. 

Once, physicists studied non-equilibrium behavior and phase transitions by supplying energy to a system and observing how it was transduced from large to small scales. Today Cristina Marchetti and others, extending an area of physics theory that began in 1995 with bird flocking, study systems where the energy of individuals leads to large-scale organization. They have succeeded in building physical analogs of biofilms and are making progress toward a quantitative understanding of wound healing and metastasis.


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