This Week

Week Commencing 16 October 2017

Announcement of New Gravitational Wave Results

Monday 16 October 2017, 3pm, Physics West Lecture Theatre 117
Join us for a live streaming of a press conference during which
scientists representing LIGO, Virgo, and some 70 observatories will
reveal new details and discoveries made in the ongoing search for
gravitational waves. This will be followed by short presentations
by local experts from our Institute of Gravitational Wave Astronomy,
explaining the significance of the discovery and to answer questions.

ASR Management Group

Tuesday 17 October 2017, 1pm, Physics West 229

ASR Group Meeting

Wednesday 18 October 2017, 12 noon, Physics West Library

Physics Colloquium

Wednesday 18 October 2017, 4pm, Poynting Small Lecture Theatre S06
Speaker: Ilya Nemenman, Emory University, USA
Title: The physics of cellular sensing

For many years, biology was the refuge from mathematics within the
scientific world. This is no longer true. The last two decades have
witnessed an explosive growth in life sciences, fuelled largely by
quantitative, mathematical reasoning and high-precision experiments
that originated in physical sciences. The times of summarizing
components of biological systems with cartoon diagrams that many of
us remember from high school biology text books are giving way to
quantitative models that make predictions as precise as those in the
inanimate physical world.

In my talk, I will try to guide you through 30+ years of developing
such quantitative models for one relatively simple function that all
living systems must perform to survive in this world: sense their
environment. We can characterize such sensing by living cells in the
same terms as we use to describe man-made information processing
devices. Surprisingly, this leads to the realization that even
“simple” cells are extremely good in sensing tasks, approaching
fundamental physical limits set by molecular diffusion and
thermodynamics, and beating most human-engineered devices. And where
the achievable performance is not sufficient, cells have found
ingenious ways of improving it by comparing their notes to those of
their neighbours, by sharing the workload, by multiplexing their
communications, by trading energy for extra bits of information, etc.
I will illustrate some of these mechanisms with examples from the life
of bacterial and mammalian cells.

Astronomy in the City

Wednesday 18 October 2017, 6pm, Poynting Large Lecture Theatre

We are delighted to announce the 2017/2018 Astronomy in the City
season! Our first event will be 18th October and will include a
talk on the latest gravitational-wave discoveries from our LIGO team.
Tickets are now available from
Astronomy in the City is a series of free all-ticket public events,
each packed with astrophysics; stargazing, and tea and biscuits.
Evenings begin with talks covering astronomical highlights and recent
research, and a question-and-answer session (for everything from
beginner's questions about the night sky to the latest work done here
in Birmingham).


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