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G I TAYLOR LECTURE - Waves in the airways: a carpet of microscopic rowers keeps us alive

Mon 29 January

Department of Chemistry

The G I Taylor Lecture by Professor Pietro Cicuta, Professor of Biological Physics, Biological and Soft Systems, Cavendish Laboratory, Department of Physics.

The first talk in a series of lectures organised by the Cambridge Philosophical Society in the Lent Term 2018

Abstract: We can breathe in dusty environments, without choking, and we are not infected by the vast fraction of bacteria that we inhale in a typical day. This is thanks to a carpet of microscopic moving filaments that lines our airways, the cilia. This carpet keeps a constantly refreshed clean layer of fluid, commonly known as the mucus, in motion. We cough, sometimes, as a response to cilia not working properly, which can be a result of an infection. Some people have severe diseases that permanently affect this important function. Why do we look at this in the Physics Department? Even in healthy people, it is not clear how the cilia manage to coordinate their beating. Coordination is essential, imagine the difference a good cos can make to a rowing crew. The cilia manage, spontaneously, to coordinate over a scale of millions of individual filaments, to form long range waves of rowers. We need an understanding of the physics of synchronisation, together with fluid dynamics, and knowledge from cell biology, to piece this puzzle together.

Cost: Free

Ages: 16+

Enquiries and booking

No need to book.

Open to all who are interested, no booking required. Entrance is free to all our Cambridge Philosophical Society Lectures. For further information please contact the Executive Secretary or visit the Society's website

Enquiries: Beverley Larner Website Email: philosoc@hermes.cam.ac.uk Telephone: 01223 334743


All times

Mon 29 January 6:00PM - 7:00PM


Entrance to the lecture theatre is opposite the Scott Polar Research Building, off Lensfield Road
Address: Department of Chemistry
Bristol Myers-Squibb Lecture Theatre
Lensfield Road
Telephone: +44 1223 336300
Fax: +44 1223 336362