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Colloque Promenade dans la physique d’aujourd’hui / A Stroll through Today’s Physics

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The elasticity of knots
Basile Audoly (CNRS)

29 juin 2007

Knots are present in everyday life and they can certainly be annoying. They can be very useful too for climbing, sailing, or simply for tying one’s shoes. In science, the topology of knots and braids has been studied quite extensively; mathematicians have proposed a number of invariants to help discriminating between various types of knots. More recently, biologists and physicists and have become interested in knots, which are found in long polymers, such as DNA. In this talk, I shall first shortly review these results. In a second part, I investigate the mechanics of knots, and show that one can explicitly calculate the shape of knotted elastic rods, which are minimizers of the Kirchhoff energy for elastic rods subject to topological constraints.

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Basile Audoly Basile Audoly (CNRS)
Institut de mécanique d’Alembert, Université Paris 6