Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Advancing Science in Tandem with Colleagues in Japan… (#ACS #PRE #justpublished)

Sometimes features in my projects appear to come in waves. Intellectual discourse with distant groups appears to be a running theme at the moment. As with our recent work on roaming reactions, my recent article in Physical Review E involves a bit of back and forth with colleagues around the world. This time, it's my friends Kawai and Komatsuzaki at Hokaido University.

Since the start of my independent research career, I have been working on developing a series of models to describe the motion of particles in solvents that change with time. It's like trying to describe how a returner will run during a football kick-off without fully specifying the details of where all the blockers are and will be. The truth is that the blockers will move according to how the kick returner moves. This coordinated response between the chosen system—the returner or a molecule—and it's environment is not so easy to describe, and has been the object of much of the NSF-funded work by our group. We have managed to develop several models using stochastic differential equations that allow us to include such coupled interactions to varying degrees. While we were able to describe the response of the blockers to the returner in ever more complicated ways, for the most part they never seemed willing to talk to each other. A few years ago, Kawaii and Komatsuzaki found a formal way to extend the environment—that is, the blockers—so that they are able to affect each other as they respond to the system motion. In order to do this, though, you have to make some strong assumptions about the environment that are hard to satisfy for typical systems. In our latest paper, Alex Popov and I show that the our formalism is able to capture some of the generality of their model while still accommodating more general particles and environments.

The discussion between our two groups is a bit technical, but the back-and-forth is helping us all advance our understanding of the theory as well as enable its applications. The discourse is also not restricted to paper (in ink or bits) as our groups are now meeting regularly at workshops (such as in Telluride), and at our respective institutions (such as in my upcoming visit to Hokkaido university.)  Again, it's the opportunity for open discourse that makes it fun to keep advancing science!

The title of the article is "The T-iGLE can capture the nonequilibrium dynamics of two dissipated coupled oscillators," and the work was funded by the NSF. It was released recently at Phys. Rev. E, 88, 032145 (2013). Click on http://dx.doi.rog/:10.1103/PhysRevE.88.032145 to access the article.

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