Uploaded by UniversityOfBristol on 23.03.2012

Transcript:

I study models of complex systems -

let's say a cell, a very complex

collection of molecules, and I try to make

mathematical models which illustrate processes which are happening.

So, for example, how do cells move?

I use methods from theoretical physics

to try to develop these mathematical models.

This is clearly a very complicated system,

so a large part of the model that I do

is trying to identify the essential elements of this system.

And this is where my background

as a theoretical physicist comes into its own.

NINA: Although it may sound as though what Tannie and I do

are very different things, in fact we use the same approach,

we both have a background in mathematical and theoretical physics.

We both use that background to model the thing that we want to understand.

Tannie models things that are very practical,

I use my background to model

questions in number theory.

Questions to do with prime numbers

and the Riemann zeta for instance, which have been around for 150 years

and which are, as yet, unanswered.

So what we aim to do is use a technique that actually

originates in physics called the random matrix theory.

It turns out that, amazingly, surprisingly,

there's a connection between these number-theoretical functions,

which are all connected with prime numbers and very pure mathematics.

TANNIEMOLA: Another thing which is of particular interest to me

is how one could efficiently design some machine

which is very small, as small as, let's say, one of our cells

that could move autonomously efficiently.

For this, the essential part of making such a system

is identifying what are the key ingredients that would make it work.

What we've done is to model a biological system

then also model a synthetic system, but then use ideas from both

to help us in our understanding

of how one can quantitatively describe these systems.

You often have groups of people working from different backgrounds,

so you might have, as well as people doing experiments,

maybe chemists, physicists, biologists.

You might also have engineers or mathematicians

who might be making models of these systems.

And actually, you often find that

the kind of models that I and my collaborators make

are the models which try to capture the essence of the system

and then this other person can then fill in the details

of exactly how this, if you want - machine works.

And we tend not to

model all the way to the last detail of the system,

we make models which capture the qualitative behaviour

and then usually we stop

because usually that's the bit we like!

NINA: Mathematicians do mathematics

because we're curious, there's a question out there

that no-one knows the answer to

and we want to know what the answer is and so,

over the years, mathematicians have invented mathematical methods

and then sometime in the future, it could be 10 years, 100 years,

someone else will see a use for that.

So all the technology we have around us today

is all based on mathematics

somewhere along the line,

but we do the mathematics because we love it.

let's say a cell, a very complex

collection of molecules, and I try to make

mathematical models which illustrate processes which are happening.

So, for example, how do cells move?

I use methods from theoretical physics

to try to develop these mathematical models.

This is clearly a very complicated system,

so a large part of the model that I do

is trying to identify the essential elements of this system.

And this is where my background

as a theoretical physicist comes into its own.

NINA: Although it may sound as though what Tannie and I do

are very different things, in fact we use the same approach,

we both have a background in mathematical and theoretical physics.

We both use that background to model the thing that we want to understand.

Tannie models things that are very practical,

I use my background to model

questions in number theory.

Questions to do with prime numbers

and the Riemann zeta for instance, which have been around for 150 years

and which are, as yet, unanswered.

So what we aim to do is use a technique that actually

originates in physics called the random matrix theory.

It turns out that, amazingly, surprisingly,

there's a connection between these number-theoretical functions,

which are all connected with prime numbers and very pure mathematics.

TANNIEMOLA: Another thing which is of particular interest to me

is how one could efficiently design some machine

which is very small, as small as, let's say, one of our cells

that could move autonomously efficiently.

For this, the essential part of making such a system

is identifying what are the key ingredients that would make it work.

What we've done is to model a biological system

then also model a synthetic system, but then use ideas from both

to help us in our understanding

of how one can quantitatively describe these systems.

You often have groups of people working from different backgrounds,

so you might have, as well as people doing experiments,

maybe chemists, physicists, biologists.

You might also have engineers or mathematicians

who might be making models of these systems.

And actually, you often find that

the kind of models that I and my collaborators make

are the models which try to capture the essence of the system

and then this other person can then fill in the details

of exactly how this, if you want - machine works.

And we tend not to

model all the way to the last detail of the system,

we make models which capture the qualitative behaviour

and then usually we stop

because usually that's the bit we like!

NINA: Mathematicians do mathematics

because we're curious, there's a question out there

that no-one knows the answer to

and we want to know what the answer is and so,

over the years, mathematicians have invented mathematical methods

and then sometime in the future, it could be 10 years, 100 years,

someone else will see a use for that.

So all the technology we have around us today

is all based on mathematics

somewhere along the line,

but we do the mathematics because we love it.