Tuesday, June 29 at 4pm ET

This session provided an example of a binary viewpoint in the molecular sciences that has been recently unified. It focused on the hydrophobic force, which describes the tendency of oily droplets to coalesce together in water. Especially since many entities in biology possess “oily” characteristics (antibodies, membranes, etc.), understanding the hydrophobic force has become a key aim for many molecular scientists.

Nevertheless, for about half of a century, there has been a paradox regarding hydrophobicity: While computational predictions suggested a weak “oscillatory” force, experimental measurements observed a strong “monotonic” force.  By bridging between the computational and experimental communities in the past decade, we in turn achieved consilience: In essence, to quote John Stuart Mill, “the conflicting doctrines share the truth between them,” since they are just relevant for the two limiting cases of the size of the hydrophobic entities (whether they are small or large hydrophobes).

This session was led by Aviel Chaimovich, an Assistant Teaching Professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia.  The presentation was tailored for a general audience of academics (most of the mathematics is omitted).