Cosmology of the heart

don 07 mei 2009, 16:00
Emmy Noether, S25

Het tweede Wie-doet-wat-colloquium heeft Henri Verschelde als spreker.

Heart arrhythmias are at the basis of ventricular fibrillation, one of the main causes of death in the modern world. The precise mechanism of fibrillation is still unknown but the onset is a rotating spiral wave of electrical activity which eventually becomes unstable and decays into chaos. The filaments around which these spirals rotate behave as strings moving in curved space in precisely the same way as cosmic strings in an expanding universe. The curvature is caused by anisotropy in the fiber orientation of the heart. We show, using the language of general relativity (differential geometry), how electrical wave fronts and spirals can be described as branes and strings moving in non-Euclidean space. We discuss a new mechanism for fibrillation based on instabiltiy of strings induced by the curvature of space. Magnetic resonance measurements (collab. with Univ. Leeds and Cornell) are under way to determine the Ricci tensor of the heart and test these new ideas.