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Granular Patterns$
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Igor Aranson and Lev Tsimring

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199534418

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199534418.001.0001

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Granular physics of biological objects

Granular physics of biological objects

(p.259) 9 Granular physics of biological objects
Granular Patterns

Igor S. Aranson

Lev S. Tsimring

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents an overview of patterns emerging in the various biological systems. Complex patterns in biological systems can be caused by a variety of mechanisms, from “simple” physical effects (e.g., steric repulsion in dense bacteria colonies, hydrodynamic entrainment) to highly complex biological mechanisms (e.g., chemotaxis, quorum sensing, or even “social” interactions due to direct visual, audio, or chemical communication between individual species). Relatively simple situations — where the biological pattern formation is mostly determined by the same physical mechanisms which are at work in granular systems, such as hydrodynamic entrainment, steric repulsion, mechanical alignment and inelastic collisions — are explored. The chapter begins with a purely bio-mechanical ordering of rod-like cells in confined environments due to steric repulsion, then discusses “microscopic” discrete and continuum models of flocking. It then proceeds to more complicated systems, such as microtubules interacting with molecular motors and hydrodynamically entrained motile bacteria.

Keywords:   chemotaxis, steric, alignment, entrainment, flocking, motile bacteria, inelastic collision, microtubules, molecular motors

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