Physics Colloquium - Friday, Feb. 29th, 2008, 4:00 P.M.

E300 Math/Science Center; Refreshments at 3:30 P.M. in Room E200

Steven Harvey
School of Biology
Georgia Tech

Biophysical Approaches to Studying Structures, Forces and Thermodynamics In Viruses

Viruses have been among the favorite targets of physicists interested in biology since right after World War II, when Max Delbruck other physicists founded the so-called "Phage School". (Phage are viruses that infect bacteria.) Viruses exist at the boundary between living and non-living objects. Some are as small as 50 nm in diameter and have quasi-icosahedral symmetry, but their apparent simplicity hides an amazingly rich set of mechanisms for infecting their hosts and reproducing themselves. This colloquium will examine the mechanisms of assembling icosahedral viruses, with a description of recent experimental advances (electron microscopy; single-molecule experiments) and a discussion of theoretical and computational approaches to investigating viral assembly.