Toy story: What I have learned from playing with toys about the physics of living cells

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Yogi Berra once noted that "You can observe a lot just by watching." A similar remark can be made about toys: you can learn a lot of physics by playing with certain children's toys, and given that physics also applies to life, you could hope that it would also be possible to learn about the physics of living cells by close observation of toys, loosely defined. I'll start out with a couple of toys, rubber duckies and something called a soliton machine and discuss insights (or failures) in how "energy" moves in biological molecules. I'll bring back the rubber duckies and a toy suggested by one of the eccentrics known to roam the halls of academia to discuss how this lead to studies how cells move and collective aspects of cell movement. Then I'll talk about mazes and how they lead to experiments on evolution and cancer. Hopefully this broad range of toys will show how indeed "You can observe a lot just by watching" about some of the fundamental physics of living cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMicrofluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems IX
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 9 2011
EventMicrofluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems IX - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 23 2011Jan 25 2011

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Volume7929
ISSN (Print)0277-786X

Other

OtherMicrofluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems IX
CountryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA
Period1/23/111/25/11

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Keywords

  • ecology
  • evolution
  • microfabrication
  • nanofabrication

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  • Cite this

    Austin, R. H. (2011). Toy story: What I have learned from playing with toys about the physics of living cells. In Microfluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems IX [792902] (Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering; Vol. 7929). https://doi.org/10.1117/12.882723