Public course on the interface of biology and physics

Public course on the interface of biology and physics

In March 2022, Carsten Krauss, professor of physics and biochemistry at the University of Geneva, will give a public course (in French) on the interface of biology and physics. Over the course of 4 consecutive Thursdays, he will provide a new insight into the theory of the self-organization of matter that challenges our notion of what life is not. The subject goes far beyond physics and biology to address questions of philosophy and our understanding of our position among all living beings.

Pro. Interview with Carsten Krauss

Why is it important to hold a public course on life and on the theory of the self-organization of matter?

All living beings are part of our physical world and thus obey the laws of physics. Like any other type of matter, living beings consist of interacting atoms and molecules. And yet, living matter differs from the forms of matter commonly studied in physics because it is constantly changing chemical energy to maintain its structure and perform important functions. What really makes living matter special? How does life emerge from physical interactions? How are chemical reactions linked with mechanical processes? These are fundamental questions about life.

Why is this topic important to you?

I would like to highlight two aspects. First, I’m thrilled with the emergence of new features from interactions between ‘agents’, For example, how components of a cell are orchestrated – or orchestrated themselves – to generate cell migration toward food sources. How do the cells arrange to make the organs of an animal? Second, by understanding the organizational principles of life, we can better assess our position among all living beings.

How did you become an expert in this subject?

Being a physicist by training, I have worked in the field of dynamical systems since my PhD. I have been applying its concepts and tools to biological systems for over 20 years. During this period, I have participated in the development of new approaches to the study of living matter and helped to understand the mechanisms underlying biological self-organization in various molecular, cellular and multicellular systems.

Why is this topic relevant today?

We now understand that humans are part of an ecosystem that is largely influenced by us. Changes in this ecosystem feed back on us. A deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying the self-organization of living matter will also shed light on the impact of our actions on Earth’s biosphere.

What will people learn during this public course?

my aim is to make people understand How can interactions between non-living molecules lead to processes in living things?,

This public course, entitled “At the Interface of Biology and Physics: The Principles of the Self-Organization of Life and Matter,” will be offered in French at the University of Geneva in March 2022.
More details and mandatory booking

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