What properties differentiate living systems from non-living entities? LMU biophysicist Erwin Frey is at the forefront of attempts to develop a new understanding of the distinctive features of complex biological systems. In the current issue of insightLMU, he introduces us to this still young field, located at the interface between biology and physics, which is developing at a furious pace.
Complex systems have been studied at the University Observatory for 200 years – at a much larger scale of course. When it opened in 1816 on the outskirts of the city, the Observatory was Munich’s first eye on the sky. Today, the Observatory is located 1800 m above sea level in the Bavarian Alps. It is equipped with an up-to-date 2-m optical telescope, and also provides specially designed instruments for larger facilities. Experts are already working on the construction of the ‘first-light’ camera for the largest telescope in the world, the European Southern Observatory’s Extremely Large Telescope (39 m!), which will be sited in Chile and will go into operation in 2024.
A choir of 200 certainly qualifies as a complex system too. In the new insightLMU, we look behind the scenes at the hard work required to maintain the high standard of musicianship for which Munich’s University Choir is widely known. Its members are drawn from many academic disciplines and from many different countries, and each voice brings a specific timbre to the polyphonic texture. The conductor’s task is to mold and mix the diverse colors into an engaging and expressive sound – before the Choir goes onstage for its end-of-term concert in the Great Aula to demonstrate its musical mettle to an expectant audience.