Physics Colloquium: Bacterial Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance: A Single Cell Turing Machine

Event Details

  • Speaker(s): Dr. Robert H. Austin
  • Date:
  • Time: 10:30 AM
  • Location: SSC 1511


We have discovered using our microfabrication technology that bacteria can evolve resistance to antibiotics remarkably quickly. I’ll argue that bacteria possibly resemble a form of Turing machine, where the “computation” of fitness is made by the writing mutations on bacterial  chromosomes and erasure of marks would correspond to the elimination of chromosomes that were less fit.  We have evidence that the a single bacterial cell can generate many chromosomes in the course of this calculation, and the halting of the Turing machine upon arrival of a solution to the antibiotic problem represents a form of addressing the Entscheidungsproblem.


Refreshments are available in the I.K. MacKenzie Interaction Room, MacN 217, prior to the colloquium.