February 3, 2011

Paper(s) of the Week (Colloids and Parallelism)

This week, I found two papers in Science that are worth taking a look at:

One is a materials science paper called "Supracollidal Reaction Kinetics of Janus Spheres". Science, 331, 199 (2011). link

In the first paper, particles called "Janus spheres" are used to build clusters and other structures. The term "Janus sphere" refers to their two-faced nature -- hydrophobic (water-repelling) on one hemisphere, and hydrophilic (water-loving) on the other. In this sense, they behave like dipoles. The authors did molecular dynamics simulations to show that these particles can self-assemble into higher-order structures such as fibrillar triple helices. A good article for anyone interested in molecular self-assembly.

The other is a biomimetics paper called "A Biological Solution to a Fundamentally Distributed Computing Problem". Science, 331, 183 (2011). link

The second paper is an attempt to design an algorithm that mimics cell autonomy in insect development for the purpose of designing "smart" autonomous distributed systems (such as networks or robot teams). The model system is molecular signaling during the development of sensory organ precursors in insects. Sensory organ precursor (SOP) cells are selected in development from many other like cells in a single proneural cluster to become bristles. This occurs through an "election" process whereby every cell in the cluster is connected to an SOP with no two SOPs being adjacent. This is similar to the maximal independent set problem in computing, where a network of processors are sorted into a topology similar to that of insect development using an election criterion. The authors come up with a 15-step algorithm which may be useful for students of optimization and many other topical areas.

No comments:

Post a Comment