Charlotte De Blois de la Calande (OIST) - Swimming droplets and waving pillars, physical systems for exploring small scales biological phenomena
One may simply be amazed in front of the diversity and complexity of life. Growth, motion, segregation, synchronisation, sensing or memory are all abilities that biology has developed in a multitude of ways, and at a multitude of scales. Yet, understanding biological phenomena at the fundamental level is challenging because of the inherent complexity of living organisms. Developing simpler physical systems mimicking biological features presents the double interest of reproducing these complex behaviours in a controlled way and being easier to study experimentally. Here, we present two of such model physical systems: First, a model swimmer, a swimming water droplet in an outer oil-micelle solution, is observed in complex situations to understand the influence of the environment on its behaviour. Second, an array of passive pillars under visco-elastic flow is used to mimic the biological cilia and exhibit complex phenomena such as metachronal waves. Beyond the simple understanding of these systems, we want to highlight how startling it is that the living world and the physico-chemical world can be so closely related.
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- 2021-02-25 11:30