initiated by Paul Ehrenfest in 1912
currently organized by Ana Achúcarro & Luca Giomi (read about its history)

Dinner participants: 55 | Follow the live stream


William Bialek

Princeton University

May 29

7:30 p.m.


Physics for maggots

The development of a single cell into a fully functional organism is one of Nature’s most extraordinary phenomena. In the case of a fruit fly, the larva—a maggot—can walk away from the discarded egg shell just 24 hours after the egg is laid. Even more strikingly, if we measure the concentrations of fewer than a dozen crucial molecules we can see a “blueprint” for the segmented body plan of the maggot after just three hours, and this happens before cells start to move. These patterns are the result of information flow through a network of interacting genes, and the fly embryo provides a laboratory for studying the physics of this information flow. It turns out that development is extraordinarily precise and reproducible despite the fact that relevant molecules are at low concentrations and hence signals must be noisy. This motivates a physical principle: the relevant network is tuned to extract as much information as possible from a limited number of molecules. We’ll see how this theory can be connected to experiments, generating quantitative and parameter-free predictions.

The Colloquium Ehrenfestii takes place Wednesday evenings starting at 19:30 hours in the main auditorium of the Oort building. Before the Colloquium, there is a common dinner in the canteen located on the ground floor of the Oort building. This dinner starts at 18:00 hours sharp and is free of charge, under the condition that one attends the colloquium and that one has made a reservation before noon on the Tuesday preceding the colloquium.

We count on your presence if you register, please do show up. Meal registrations may close earlier, when 80 persons have signed up.

Colloquium Ehrenfestii Program 2024

10 Jan

Jay Fineberg (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Friction, Earthquakes and Everything in Between

21 Feb

Sera Markoff (Anton Pannekoek Inst., University of Amsterdam)

A tale of two black holes: Sgr A* and M87*

10 Apr

Christopher Fuchs (University of Boston)

Repainting Quantum Mechanics on QBist Canvas

08 May

Cumrun Vafa (Harvard University)

Quantum Gravity and Predictions for our Universe

29 May

William Bialek (Princeton University)

Physics for maggots

25 Sep

Chiara Mariotti (CERN, INFN Turin)


16 Oct

Xiao-gang Wei (MIT)


06 Nov

Viatcheslav Mukhanov (LMU Munich)


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