How can a swarm swarm? — What is biophysics? #13

Herds of wildebeest, swarms of bees, and schools of fish all provide mesmerizing displays of coordinated motion. Fish, birds, and other animals numbering even in the millions can act as one not through centralized control, but through local actions and decisions, as each individual assesses the speed and orientation of its neighbors. This self-organization is … Continue reading How can a swarm swarm? — What is biophysics? #13

Things Fall Apart; The Bacterial Cluster Cannot Hold

About a recent paper from my lab: Deepika Sundarraman, T. Jarrod Smith, Jade V. Z. Kast, Karen Guillemin, and Raghuveer Parthasarathy, “Disaggregation as an interaction mechanism among intestinal bacteria,” Biophysical Journal (2022). Some bacteria stick together; others do not. We have seen these variations among bacteria inside the zebrafish gut, and it’s probably the case … Continue reading Things Fall Apart; The Bacterial Cluster Cannot Hold

How are tears like salad dressing? — What is biophysics? #9

In a charming letter published in 1774, Benjamin Franklin described an experiment in which he had poured “not more than a teaspoonful” of oil onto a pond, which he found sufficient to calm the water despite a choppy wind. What, you may be wondering, connects Franklin, ponds, tears, and salad dressing? In the last “What … Continue reading How are tears like salad dressing? — What is biophysics? #9

Can you see single photons? — What is biophysics? #6

The realization that electromagnetic waves are quantized — that light interacts in discrete packets — marked the beginning of quantum mechanics. Whether this fundamental attribute of the physical world sets the performance limits of human vision is a fascinating biophysical question. It’s so fascinating that Bill Bialek’s excellent graduate-level biophysics textbook begins with it, and … Continue reading Can you see single photons? — What is biophysics? #6