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Wednesday, May 26, 2010
1:30 PM - 2:30 PM
CNLS Conference Room (TA-3, Bldg 1690)


Tilting at Windmills

Professor Robert Austin
Department of Physics, University of Princeton

One of the dreams of theoretical physics has been applying in a meaningful way the deep concepts of quantum physics to biological phenomena. Unfortunately the story has been a rather sad one with many false leads. I myself got caught up in the Davydov soliton dream, which proposed a quantum mechanical non-linear mechanism for energy trapping in proteins. I'll go over my 20 year search for the Davydov soliton at free electron lasers around the world, including Los Alamos Labs, and tell you what I found out about the schemes of theorists when they confront hard reality. I will discuss at the end quantum inspired biology, which may have more of a future.

Host: Bob Ecke, T-CNLS