On March 11, 2019, Professor Daan Frenkel (University of Cambridge) gave the 5th annual Carolyn & Charles Knobler Lecture.
The well-attended lecture, titled “Counting the Uncountable:Entropy Beyond Boltzmann”, was followed by a question-and-answer period and then by a reception in the Young Hall Cafe Commons. Select photos from the event are below. The Carolyn and Chuck Knobler Lecture is an endowed lecture series made possible by the strong support of alumni, colleagues, and friends of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. A long-time friend of the Knoblers, and of several others in the department, Professor Daan Frenkel, worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the department with Professor John McTague from 1977 to 1980, and has made visits to UCLA in the intervening years to give the 2nd annual Daniel Kivelson Lecture in 2006 and the 6th annual Robert Scott Lecture in 2012.
In his welcoming remarks, William Gelbart paid tribute to the five decades of extraordinary research, teaching, and service contributions of Carolyn and Charles “Chuck” Knobler, and enumerated the many pioneering research achievements of the speaker, Daan Frenkel.
Frenkel, a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, has been a world leader for decades in the numerical simulation of fundamental chemical and physical phenomena, including the spontaneous formation of orientational order in colloidal systems, the role of short- versus long- range forces in crystallization, non-equilibrium phenomena such as “jamming” and the glass transition, protein folding and mis-folding, the nature of long-range order in two-dimensional systems, and the design of novel materials from DNA “brick” and “origami” structures.
In his lecture, Frenkel discussed the fundamental problem of generalizing the statistical definition of entropy formulated by Boltzmann and Gibbs in the late 19th century so that it could include the important case of granular and out-of-equilibrium disordered materials, and showed how it is possible to “count the uncountable”, i.e., enumerate the astronomically large number of possible states of a “jammed” system.
Frenkel has also been a key developer of faster and more accurate methodologies and computational algorithms for carrying out multi-scale Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics simulations, and has been highly influential in fostering and promoting collaboration between computational theorists, “paper-and-pencil” theorists, and experimentalists. He is the co-author of Understanding Molecular Simulation (2001), the widely acknowledged “bible” in the field, throughout the world. A native of Holland, his seminal contributions have been honored by election to the Dutch Academy of Sciences and (as a Foreign Member) to the British Royal Society and the U.S. National Academy of Science, and by many of the most prestigious international prizes, including most recently the Boltzmann Medal in Statistical Physics, awarded once every three years.
The 2015 inaugural Carolyn & Charles Knobler lecture was given by Prof. Donald Hilvert (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich) on the rational design of protein cages, the 2016 lecture by Prof. Sharon Glotzer (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) on novel phases of colloids and nanoparticles, the 2017 lecture by Prof. Michael Hagan (Brandeis University) on the physics of viral self-assembly, and the 2018 lecture by Prof. Jean-François Joanny (ESPCI Paris and Institut Curie Paris) on the physics of tissue monolayers, and incipient tumors.
At the reception following the lecture – Daan Frenkel, Christopher DeSantis (Managing Editor – ACS Nano), William Gelbart, and Charles Knobler.
William Gelbart, Charles Knobler, Daan Frenkel, and Paul Weiss.
Article and photos by Penny Jennings/UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.