May 5, 2022
Raghuveer Parthasarathy: The Four Physical Principles — #11
Play • 1 hr 21 min

Raghu Parthasarathy is the Alec and Kay Keith Professor of Physics at the University of Oregon. His research focuses on biophysics, exploring systems in which the complex interactions between individual components, such as biomolecules or cells, can give rise to simple and robust physical patterns. Raghu is the author of a recent popular science book: So Simple a Beginning: How Four Physical Principles Shape Our Living World.

Steve and Raghu discuss:


1:34 - Early life, transition from Physics to Biophysics

20:15 - So Simple a Beginning: discussion of the Four Physical Principles in the title, which govern biological systems

26:06 - DNA prediction

37:46 - Machine learning / causality in science

46:23 - Scaling (the fourth physical principle) 

54:12 - Who the book is for and what high schoolers are learning in their bio and physics classes

1:05:41 - Science funding, grants, running a research lab

1:09:12 - Scientific careers and radical sub-optimality of the existing system




Book -


Raghuveer Parthasarathy's lab at the University of Oregon -


Raghuveer Parthasarathy's blog the Eighteenth Elephant -

Music used with permission from Blade Runner Blues Livestream improvisation by State Azure.

Steve Hsu is Professor of Theoretical Physics and of Computational Mathematics, Science, and Engineering at Michigan State University. Previously, he was Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation at MSU and Director of the Institute of Theoretical Science at the University of Oregon. Hsu is a startup founder (SafeWeb, Genomic Prediction, Othram) and advisor to venture capital and other investment firms. He was educated at Caltech and Berkeley, was a Harvard Junior Fellow, and has held faculty positions at Yale, the University of Oregon, and MSU.

Please send any questions or suggestions to or Steve on Twitter @hsu_steve.

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