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MBL Friday Evening Lecture Series: “Endless Forms Most Beautiful: Geometry, Physics and Biology” – L Mahadevan, Harvard University

July 5 @ 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm


Lectures are open to the public for in-person and virtual attendance. No registration required for in-person attendance at the Cornelia Clapp Auditorium.
Doors open at 7:30 PM, lectures start at 8 PM.

The range of shapes in the plant (and animal) world is “enough to drive even the sanest man mad,” wrote Darwin. Using examples from single cells to multicellular tissues to whole organisms, this lecture will examine the “method in the madness” in these shapes. Motivated by both qualitative and quantitative biological observations, Mahadevan will discuss the underlying rules that have formed that could guide the diversity and complexity of biological growth. In other words, shining a light on how the “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

L Mahadevan is the Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics, Physics, and Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, where he also serves as a co-Faculty Dean of Mather House, living and learning with a community of 400+ students.

His interests are broadly in the study of motion and matter at the human scale, where phenomena are robust and easy to observe, yet not always easy to explain. These include the patterns of shape and flow of inanimate matter on scales ranging from the supramolecular to the planetary, and the dynamics of sentient living matter that can self-organize, perceive and act. In all cases, the aim is to get at a qualitative understanding using quantitative methods, and get at general principles, if there be such, from answers to specific questions. Examples include the biophysical basis for morphogenesis, the functional ethology of super-organisms, the mathematics underlying art forms such as origami, and the physics underlying musical instruments such as the steel pan.


July 5
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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Marine Biological Laboratory
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Marine Biological Laboratory
7 MBL Street
Woods Hole,MA02543United States
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