Thu January 11th 2024
16:00 – 17:00
Seminar Thin-film flows: From similarity solutions to new insights in molecular biology
Howard A. Stone


In this talk I sketch some recent themes* from my research group, which bridge a wide range of length scales. First, I give a brief survey of some of the fluid mechanics problems that we have been investigating in recent years. Second, traditional similarity solutions in course work and research typically involve nonlinear equations with two independent variables. I will describe a known example of the “universality” of capillary rise but highlight one nonuniversal feature.

Then, I will illustrate an experimentally motivated similarity solution involving three independent variables, for which we construct an analytical solution that can be compared with experimental measurements. Finally, I discuss the formation of the spindle in a dividing cell, which is a fundamental aspect of molecular biology. Experiments documenting a condensed protein phase on growing microtubules are reported, followed by the appearance of the Rayleigh-Plateau instability, which produces discrete droplets along a microtubule: the drops drive branching nucleation, which is an important mechanism for the developing spindle.

*The research described was performed by many people in my research group, as well as some external collaborations.
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