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The physics of cell division

Event Details

Event Dates: 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 4:00pm

Seminar Location: 

  • Duane Physics Room G1B20

Speaker Name(s): 

Meredith Betterton

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

University of Colorado, Boulder
Seminar Type/Subject

Scientific Seminar Type: 

  • Physics Department Colloquium

Event Details & Abstract: 

Cells are the basic unit of life. All life on earth depends on cells’ ability to duplicate themselves. In order to divide successfully, cells must solve fascinating physics problems, which this talk will introduce assuming no biology background. A key step in cell division is ensuring that each of the daughter cells inherits a single copy of the genetic material. In eukaryotes, a self-organized machine called the mitotic spindle exerts forces that physically move the chromosomes. This cellular machine is composed of microtubules, molecular motors, and associated molecules. We are using theory, simulation, and experiment to address fundamental physics questions related to mitosis, including how the mitotic spindle structure self assembles and achieves the correct size, how the spindle organizes and moves chromosomes, and how these same components outside of cells can create nonequilibrium materials that exhibit new physics.