Chance in microbial Evolution
Microbes are everywhere, from fermented foods to thermal hot springs, human microbiomes, and human pathogens. Microbes can evolve - or change their genetic material to adapt to the environment - extremely fast. Understanding the processes that drive microbial evolution will help us to better control them when they are harmful, and leverage them when they are helpful. To do this, we have to take into account the role of chance, or probability, in evolution. How does chance play a role in evolution, what consequences does it have, and what are scientists still learning about it?
Speaker: QinQin Yu (Physics)
Surprising properties of tiny, imperfect conductors: A short, electron-guided summer vacation to the quantum realm
Tiny electronics have become an important part of 21st century life. As electronic devices become smaller and smaller, it becomes important to understand how quantum mechanics affects electrons in these devices. We will follow an electron across the landscape of a tiny conductor as it dodges and collides with obstacles. These obstacles, or “imperfections”, give rise to fascinating physics - we will learn why rubies are red, how an imperfect conductor in a strong magnetic field surprised us with one of the most precise measurements in history, and how making a material more imperfect might make it better at converting heat into electricity.
Speaker: Elizabeth Dresselhaus (Physics)
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