Active Processes in Living and Nonliving Matter

Coordinators: Iain Couzin, M. Cristina Marchetti, Sriram Ramaswamy, Christoph Schmidt

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Active processes in both living and non-living matter create a novel class of nonequilibrium materials composed of many interacting units that individually consume energy and collectively generate motion or mechanical stresses.  Active systems span an enormous range of length scales, from the cytoskeleton of individual living cells, to tissues and organisms, to animal groups such as bird flocks, fish schools and insect swarms.  These disparate systems exhibit a number of common mesoscopic to large-scale phenomena, including swarming, non-equilibrium disorder-order transitions, mesoscopic patterns, anomalous fluctuations and surprising mechanical properties.  Experiments in this field are now developing at a rapid pace and new theoretical ideas are needed to identify "universal" behavior in this broad class of internally driven systems.

This conference will be embedded in and will complement the KITP Program on "Active Matter: Cytoskeleton, Cells, Tissues and Flocks". The conference will bring together leading researchers from the broad area of active matter, including theoretical and experimental physicists, biologists, chemists, engineers and applied mathematicians. It will provide a survey of the state of progress in this young field and identify areas for future breakthroughs. Themes covered will include: dynamics of bacterial suspension, collective cell migration, active colloids, granular particles monolayers, cytoskeleton, and collective animal behavior, among others. One of the goals of the Conference, as well as of the full Program, is to generate new ideas for universal descriptions of the phenomena observed in such diverse active systems.