The 2016 Boden research conference, Animal Vegetal Mineral, was held in Yallingup in Western Australia in September. The conference’s main aim was to encourage open and broad discussions between biologists, physicists, mathematicians, chemists and materials scientists. The idea was to explore the links between the biological and the natural sciences, and draw out both the common features of living and dead systems and their essential differences. Key researchers came from areas including plant photosynthesis, animal coloration and vision studies, active granular matter, geometry and visualisation, liquid crystals, biomineralisation, intermolecular forces, peptide materials and proteomics, and origami and kirigami (shapes and structures).
The aim among the approximately 80 scientists who attended was to explore what delegates did not know, rather than what they did know.
The conference was considered a bold and successful attempt to encourage scientists from Australia, Europe, Asia and the Americas to think more fundamentally about their connections to the broader community of scientists; to look ‘over the fence’ at the details that divide life from natural scientists, and mathematicians from lab- and field-based researchers.
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