Davies is experienced at asking these types of big questions. As director of the BEYOND Center in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Davies' work has focused on applying the laws of physics to the early universe, from the first split second. He is noted for his work on the theory of quantum fields in curved spacetime, the thermodynamics of black holes, the arrow of time, the nature of the laws of physics and the emergence of life in the universe.
"My interests have been very broad. I started out working on fundamental physics and cosmology and about 15 years ago became interested in astrobiology, which is the study of origin and distribution of life in the universe," Davies says.
"When I first began thinking about the problem of cancer, it occurred to me that physicists can do some pretty fancy things. If we can build the Large Hadron Collider to find the Higgs Boson amid one trillion proton collisions, maybe we can find clever ways of locating and zapping individual cancer cells in the human body. So I began to get excited about the prospect of just throwing the full panoply of toys that physicists use at the problem of diagnosing and killing cancer cells.
"Then, I came to realize that 'think big and zap the problem' was probably not the best way to go. A more subtle approach to really understand cancer cells is to regard them as physical objects rather than as enemies to be destroyed. Cancer is a fascinating manifestation of an endlessly fascinating subject, namely life," Davies says.
"Cancer cells are, after all, physical objects," he notes. "Instead of thinking 'oh let's throw all these chemicals at them and see if we can kill them,' let's think of them as physical objects in the body or in isolation and study them in that way as a physicist would we look at the forces that act upon them, look at their mechanical properties, thei
|Contact: Carol Hughes|
Arizona State University