#TSAF (The Shapes And Forms, January 07, 2017):

Why is your shape what it is? Are shadows 2D? Is matter potentiality, and form actuality? What do shapes mean at different scales? Do shapes evolve? Are only regular 3D shapes stable? Is (the shape of, say) quartz stable, & can equilibrium shapes be derived? Is all matter porous? Why isn’t everything spherical? Does nature (topologically speaking) make toruses from spheres? Do forms depend upon whether a system is isotropic or anisotropic? Why are biological shapes always fluctuating? Is life always out of equilibrium? Are kinetic (growing or moving) shapes different? Do swarms, liquid crystals, & bacteria colonies act like magnetized systems? Are murmurations ‘thick’? Why aren’t larger entities necessarily more complex in shape? Is our shape emergent or encoded? Why is it difficult to know how shapes mediate self assemblies or evolution? Would non-carbon life (if) certainly have a different form? Can one peel graphene layers from graphite? Is the core shape question essentially an attempt to understand the interplay of all forces at all length scales? Can small particles constantly change form, and be quasi-molten? &, what is the very long term future of shapes in the universe? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from biophysics (Dr. Shashi Thutupalli, NCBS & ICTS, Bangalore), & nanotechnology (Prof. Pulickel Ajayan, Rice University, Houston, Texas).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TSAF show.

Prof. Pulickel Ajayan (material science, nanotechnology) is currently the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor of Engineering at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and the Founding Chair of the Department of Materials Science and NanoEngineering. He has done pioneering work in nanotechnology and was involved in early work in the development of carbon nanotubes. His key research interests include synthesis and structure-property relations of nanostructures and nanocomposites, materials science, applications of nanomaterials, energy storage, and phase stability in nanoscale systems. Prof. Ajayan earned his B. Tech. in Metallurgical Engineering from Banaras Hindu University (BHU, 1985), and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Northwestern University (1989). After postdoctoral work at NEC Corporation (Japan), he spent two years at the Laboratoire de Physique des Solides (Orsay, France), over a year at the Max-Planck-Institutfur Metallforschung (Stuttgart, Germany), & nearly 10 years at Rensselaer Polytechnic Insitute (Troy, New York) before joining Rice University in 2007. He has published over 750 journal papers (earning nearly 62,000 citations), given over 350 invited talks, & is affiliated with several universities around the world as a visiting professor. He has received various awards including the RSC Spiers Memorial Award (2014, from the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK)), MRS Medal (2006), and the Alexander von Humboldt-Helmholtz Senior Award. He also received Docteur Honoris Causa from the Universite Catholique de of Louvain in 2014. Prof. Ajayan has also been recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus by both BHU and Northwestern University.

Dr. Shashi Thutupalli (biophysics, dynamical systems) currently runs curiosity driven research groups  at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) and the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS) in Bangalore. He completed his B.E. from Bangalore University (2001) & then completed his M.A.Sc. from University of Toronto (2005). He then completed his Ph.D. at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization (Gottingen, Germany) in Physics with a focus on non-equilibrium dynamics in soft and biological matter. Subsequently, he was an HFSP Cross Disciplinary Fellow at the Princeton University (USA). He was also a visiting fellow at Issac Newton Institute, Cambridge (2013), & a visiting scholar at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (2014). His group is currently embarking on a research program that aims to understand collective mechanical and evolutionary dynamics in living and complex systems using the approach of experimental probes of theory driven ideas. His group studies active evolvable matter wherein in addition to being mechanically active (energy flux), such matter is able to sense, compute, adapt and evolve (information flux). In exploring how this description applies (quantitatively and qualitatively) to living and non-living matter, their aim is to develop novel technology not only as a tool for investigations, but also as an end in itself. Dr. Thutupalli was awarded the FOKOS Award for Research in Complex Systems in 2014 and the Springer Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis in Physics (2013).

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TSAF mentionsAristotle, Josiah Willard Gibbs, George Wulff, D’arcy Thompson, & Ilya Prigogine, among others.