written by: Raman van Wee
Speaker: Robbert Dijkgraaf
Department: Physics dept. Princeton
Subject: The relation between the extremely large & the tiny world
Location: Applied Sciences
Professor Dijkgraaf told us about the various scales scientists work at. We concluded that life (& Nanobiology) is centered at the middle of this sizescale.
According to Dijkgraaf this makes studying life extra challenging. In the outer sizes a different set of rules and equations hold, but in the middle, where life happens to be, the collide, making it extra hard. I found this both surprising and intriguing. Surprising because it posed quite a contradiction with my
instinctual beliefs, intuitionally I felt the center of scale is the relatively easy part and going out into space or into the world of quarks would be more challenging. It intrigued me as well, because as a Nanobiologist I am working right around this center!
The concepts in the introduction were well imaginable and thus comprehensible, as the seminar continued, it became less and less logical for me. A lot of concepts were new for me and were touched on only briefly, hence I lost parts of the seminar. Just like Dijkgraaf said one could easily get lost in H space while I didn’t even know what is comprised. Despite me not following all the content, it still widened my horizon, as it became apparent how much there is around I still don’t know anything about. A lot of those concepts and theories are also more or less related to my field of study and are therefore worth taking a closer look at some time. Although slightly off topic, when Cees Dekker introduced Dijkgraaf, he told us about some of the many committees, boards or councils Dijkgraaf has working in. I found this interesting as well, besides his own research he is also looking at science from different levels and angles, which I believe is anything but boring.
All in all life is at the center of the sizescales. Beyond the cellular and organelle level there is yet so much to be discovered. In the future a beautiful goal
would be to implement concepts in the universe scale into the atomic scale and vice versa. Personally I am most interested in some of the quantum related theories and concepts.