Biological Aging from the Perspective of Physics, Information Science, and Life Sciences
From the scientific point of view, aging is a concept that has been studied from seemingly dissimilar perspectives within biology and physics. Biological aging can be considered as a result of evolution, and has impacted fields like neuroscience, genetics and systems biology. More recently, aging has come to be regarded as a disease that should be cured like other diseases. In contrast to these approaches, when aging is discussed from the perspective of physics, the focus is usually on physical aging of materials like glasses or soft matter rather than of living systems.
In this conference the physics perspective will be extended in view of more recent results from biophysics and stochastic thermodynamics towards biological aging of living systems, based on tools from nonlinear dynamics, statistical physics and information science. We will discuss, for instance, aging on the individual and collective level in single biological cells and whole cellular populations as well as ecological populations. We will also pursue manifestations of aging in the human brain. One of the standard biological manifestations of aging on the genetic and cellular level is the fact that repair mechanisms of errors are less efficient in older age.
We will confront these facts with the viewpoint –usually not discussed in the context of aging- that fundamental biological processes like gene transcription, translation, copying and sensing are information-transforming and transferring processes that are error-prone. Errors can be corrected via repair, but corrections cost energy, and the higher the required precision, the more energy is needed. This must be expected based on the more generic, fundamental and seemingly ubiquitous trade-off between energetic costs, speed and precision in cellular and neuronal networks. It therefore raises the question of whether the accumulation of errors in older age can be traced back to this fundamental trade-off in combination with stochastic thermodynamics and information theory, so that aging would be determined by fundamental physical principles in an essential way.
The goal of this conference is to bridge the versatile perspectives by bringing together researchers from different disciplines, who study aging via different approaches.