Markus J. Buehler

Jerry McAfee (1940) Professor of Engineering, MIT

Panel: Deep Time & Intelligence

3D printed model of spider web. Courtesy of Markus J. Buehler and Isabelle Su.
Audible barcode of the 20 natural amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, and life. Courtesy of Markus J. Buehler.
Study of the interaction of spiders, vibrations, and water waves, in collaboration with Tomás Saraceno. Courtesy of Markus J. Buehler.
Atomistic model of fracture of materials, revealing the singular events near a rapidly moving crack, rupturing molecular bonds. Courtesy of Markus J. Buehler.
Protein designed through music, representing a paradigm-transforming shift in materialization of information. Courtesy of Markus J. Buehler.
Seeking patterns of molecular vibrations of protein molecules across scales using protein Inceptionism. Courtesy of Markus J. Buehler.

Markus J. Buehler is widely known for his groundbreaking work on singularities that occur in materials during the formation and propagation of fractures. He initially pursued that work through supercomputer simulations of forces propagating through ductile metals at the atomic scale. Having worked across scales and asked after what assistance molecular dynamics renders to materials design by way of biomimetics, Buehler has recently queried: might there be a way to use AI to identify structural homologies across scales? Having previously explored such modeling of inter-scale relations through category theory and via collaborations with CAST artists, for “Deep Time & Intelligence” Buehler shares his preliminary hypotheses and forays into the use of AI in the detection of semblances between music and proteins. Using an approach termed “materiomusic,” his work explores new forms of musical expression—such as those derived from biological materials and living systems—as a means to better understand the underlying science and mathematics, and to exchange information across scales and species.

Biography: MIT Civil and Environmental Engineering | PDF
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Symposium Schedule

Panel: Deep Time & Intelligence
Video Release: Friday, April 2, 2021 / 9:00am EST
Live Q&A: Monday, April 5, 2021 / 11:00am–12:00pm EST

Related Works

Spider’s Canvas / Arachnodrone

2019, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, France and MIT Campus, Cambridge, MA

Spider’s Canvas / Arachnodrone is an immersive, multi-sensory performance and installation based on the complex tent webs of the South American cyrtaphora citricola spider. The project is co-created by Ian Hattwick, Christine Southworth, Isabelle Su, and Evan Ziporyn, and inspired by the work of Tomás Saraceno and MIT Professor Markus J. Buehler. Spider’s Canvas is—quite literally—an interspecies collaboration.

“Universality-Diversity Paradigm: Music, Materiomics, and Category Theory”

2012, Biomateriomics

The complexity bestowed by hierarchical multi-scale structures is not only found in biological materials and systems—it arises naturally within other fields such as music or language, with starkly different functions. If we wish to exploit understanding of the structure of music as it relates to materials, we need to define the relevant properties and functional relations in an abstract sense. One approach may lie in category theory, presented in this paper in the form of ontology logs (ologs), that can transcend the traditional definitions of materials, music, or language, in a consistent and mathematically robust manner.

“Q&A: Markus Buehler on setting coronavirus and AI-inspired proteins to music”

2020, MIT News

The proteins that make up all living things are alive with music. Just ask Markus J. Buehler: The musician and MIT professor develops artificial intelligence models to design new proteins, sometimes by translating them into sound. His goal is to create new biological materials for sustainable, non-toxic applications. In a project with the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, Buehler is searching for a protein to extend the shelf-life of perishable food. In a new study in Extreme Mechanics Letters, he and his colleagues offer a promising candidate: a silk protein made by honeybees for use in hive building.