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This Week's Discoveries | 29 October 2019

Tuesday 29 October 2019
Niels Bohrweg 2
2333 CA Leiden
De Sitterzaal

First lecture

Discoveries within ASTRO 3D

Lisa Kewley (Australian National University).
Lisa is
Professor and Associate Director at the Research School for Astronomy & Astrophysics at the Australian National University College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. She is a specialist in galaxy evolution and won the Annie Jump Cannon Award in Astronomy in 2005 for her studies of oxygen in galaxies. Lisa is one of the organizers of the workshop “Revolutionary Spectroscopy of Today as a Springboard to Webb” that is being held in the Lorentz Center from 28 Oct 2019 through 1 Nov 2019

The ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) is a $40M Centre of Excellence, which is producing a comprehensive picture of the evolution of matter, the chemical elements, and energy in the Universe from shortly after the Big Bang to the present day.  ASTRO 3D merges Australian and international optical, infrared and radio telescope technologies with sophisticated theoretical simulations and ambitious new big data analysis techniques to open a new realm in astrophysics - a 3D understanding of the origins of the Universe and our place within it.  I will describe the recent discoveries made in ASTRO 3D, as well as an update on our ambitious equity and diversity programs, and large-scale public education and outreach programs.

Second lecture

A second layer of information in DNA molecules

Helmut Schiessel (Institute Lorentz, LION)
Helmut is professor of Theoretical Physics of Life Processes at LION. His research focuses on the physics of chromatin, the DNA-protein complex that fills the nuclei of eukaryotic cells. Via computer simulations and theoretical models, the group comes to quantitative descriptions of chromatin from the very small scales (e.g. the mechanics of base-pair steps in DNA) to the very large scales (e.g. the distribution of eu- and heterochromatin in the nucleus).

DNA molecules contain a second layer of information on top of the classical genetic information. This second layer is geometrical/mechanical in nature and guides the folding of DNA molecules inside cells. With the help of computer simulations, we demonstrated that the two information layers can be multiplexed (as one can have two phone conversations on the same wire). This allows, for instance, to guide on top of genes the packaging of DNA into nucleosomes (DNA-wrapped protein spools) with single base-pair precision. In addition, I report on genome-wide studies of DNA mechanics for 50 different organisms that taught us a simple general rule: around transcription start sites DNA is stiff for unicellular life and soft for multicellular life. The reason for this difference is surprising.

Read more about the lecture series This Week's Discoveries

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