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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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III. Ecosmos: A Revolutionary Fertile, Habitable, Solar-Bioplanet Lifescape

2. A Consilience of Biology and Physics: Active Matter

Zhou, Cangqi, et al. Cumulative Dynamics of Independent Information Spreading Behavior: A Physical Perspective. Nature Scientific Reports. 7/5530, 2017. Tsinghua University, Beijing, information theorists achieve a novel synthesis across these widely apart realms by which to associate our daily social media with natural complexity dynamics. As the quotes allude, an apparent independent, invariant source is implied, more than analogous, which seems in exemplary effect at each stage and instance.

The popularization of information spreading in online social networks facilitates daily communication among people. Although much work has been done to study the effect of interactions among people on spreading, there is less work that considers the pattern of spreading behaviour when people independently make their decisions. By comparing microblogging, an important medium for information spreading, with the disordered spin glass system, we find that there exist interesting corresponding relationships between them. Based on the analogy with the Trap Model of spin glasses, we derive a model with a unified power-function form for the growth of independent spreading activities. Our model takes several key factors into consideration, including memory effect, the dynamics of human interest, and the fact that older messages are more difficult to discover. Our work indicates that, other than various features, some invariable rules should be considered during spreading prediction. (Abstract)

Our work contributes a useful methodology, the analogy with physical systems, for studying human dynamics. The discovered rule, that applies to the growth of different retweeting activities with a unified form, reveals the nature of complexity in retweeting activities. We hope that our work will shed some light on the study of human dynamics. Our work also indicates that, other than various features adopted in well-tuned machine learning models, some invariable rules, such as the power-law growth of independent retweeting activities, the memory effect in human behaviour, should be taken into consideration during the prediction of information spreading. (2)

Zhou, Shuang. Lyotropic Chromonic Liquid Crystals. International: Springer, 2017. The edition is a Kent State University, Liquid Crystal Institute, award-winning doctoral thesis by a physical chemist now at Harvard. Besides clever understandings of nature’s lively materiality, the first chapter notes how such dynamic and topological propensities can be seen to similarly arise and array across emergent groupings of microbes, fish swarms, avian flocks and ungulate herds. he work thus exemplifies current studies as they find deep connections between biological, animal life and increasingly conducive physical substrates. We cite book summary edits, some chemical definitions, and an Abstract from a talk that Zhou gave at UM Amherst in February, 2018.

This thesis describes lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals (LCLCs) with exotic elastic and viscous properties. The first part presents a thorough analysis of LCLCs as functions of concentration, temperature and ionic contents, while the second part explores an active nematic system: living liquid crystals, which represent a combination of LCLC and living bacteria. LCLCs are an emerging class of liquid crystals that have shown profound connections to biological systems in two aspects. First, the process of chromonic aggregation is similar to DNA oligomers and other super-molecular assemblies of biological origin. Second, LCLCs are biocompatible, serving as a unique anisotropic matrix to interface with living systems. (Abstract excerpts and edits)

In this talk, I will introduce a new active matter system, called living liquid crystals, which combine lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals with living bacteria Bacillus Subtilis. Such system offers independent control of the orientational order – through the nematic liquid crystal, and activity – through the concentration of bacteria and oxygen. The long range nematic order profoundly changes the particle-particle and particle-fluid interactions, and results in a wealth of intriguing phenomena, such as 1) controlling bacteria trajectories through liquid crystal director field, 2) optical visualization of the motion of nanometer-thick bacteria flagella, 3) local melting of the liquid crystal by bacteria flow, 3) cargo particle transportation, 4) bend instability, and 5) low Reynolds number turbulence, among others. Living liquid crystals provide a unique angle to understand active matters physics from particle level to macroscopic level. (Abstract excerpts)

Liquid crystals (LCs) are matter in a state which has properties between those of conventional liquids and those of solid crystals. For instance, a liquid crystal may flow like a liquid, but its molecules may be oriented in a crystal-like way. Lyotropic LCs exhibit phase transitions as a function of both temperature and concentration of the liquid-crystal molecules in a solvent. Nematic denotes a state of a liquid crystal in which the molecules are oriented in parallel but not arranged in well-defined planes.

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