Physics in Biology and Medicine

Physics in Biology and Medicine, 4th Edition

Physics in Biology and Medicine, 4th Edition,Paul Davidovits,ISBN9780123865137


Academic Press




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Relate basic physics to medicine, physiology and other applied health fields.

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Key Features

  • Provides practical techniques for applying knowledge of physics to the study of living systems
  • Presents material in a straight forward manner requiring very little background in physics or biology
  • Includes many figures, examples and illustrative problems and appendices which provide convenient access to the most important concepts of mechanics, electricity, and optics in the body


Physics in Biology and Medicine, Fourth Edition explores concepts in physics as they apply to living systems. The discussion is organized into 18 chapters encompassing thermodynamics, electricity, optics, sound, solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, and atomic and nuclear physics. Each chapter provides a brief review of the background physics before focusing on the applications of physics to biology and medicine. The book describes biological systems and presents calculations of the forces exerted by muscles, as well as the maximum impact that can be sustained by a body without injury, the height from which a person can jump, the effect of an animals size on the speed at which it can run, and the circulation of blood in the body. Using the theory of fluids, the role of diffusion in the functioning of cells and the effect of surface tension on the growth of plants in soil are also analyzed. Using the principles of electricity, the conduction of impulses along the nervous system is investigated. Each section contains problems that explore and expand some of the concepts, and some of the techniques of physics and engineering are applied to the study of living systems. Moreover, the use of lasers in medical diagnostics and the applications of nanotechnology in biology and medicine are considered. This book will be a valuable resource for students and professors of physics, biology, and medicine, as well as for applied health workers.


Premed students, Doctors, nurses, physiologists, or other applied health workers, and other individuals who wish to understand the nature of the mechanics of our bodies

Paul Davidovits

Paul Davidovits, Professor of Chemistry at Boston College, was co-awarded the prestigious R.W. Wood prize from the Optical Society of America for his seminal work in optics. His contribution was foundational in the field of confocal microscopy, which allows engineers and biologists to produce optical sections through 3D objects such as semiconductor circuits, living tissues, or a single cell. Dr. Davidovits earned his doctorate, masters, and undergraduate degrees from Columbia University. Prior to his appointment at Boston College, he was a faculty member at Yale University. He has published more than 150 papers in physical chemistry and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for Advancement of Science. The second edition of Physics in Biology and Medicine received the Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award in the Discipline of the Natural Sciences.

Affiliations and Expertise

Boston College, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Physics in Biology and Medicine, 4th Edition

Preface Abbreviations 1 Static Forces     1.1 Equilibrium and Stability     1.2 Equilibrium Considerations for the Human Body     1.3 Stability of the Human Body under the Action of an External Force     1.4 Skeletal Muscles     1.5 Levers     1.6 The Elbow     1.7 The Hip          1.7.1 Limping     1.8 The Back     1.9 Standing Tip-Toe on One Foot     1.10 Dynamic Aspects of Posture     Exercises 2 Friction     2.1 Standing at an Incline     2.2 Friction at the Hip Joint     2.3 Spine Fin of a Catfish     Exercises 3 Translational Motion     3.1 Vertical Jump     3.2 Effect of Gravity on the Vertical Jump     3.3 Running High Jump     3.4 Range of a Projectile     3.5 Standing Broad Jump     3.6 Running Broad Jump (Long Jump)     3.7 Motion through Air     3.8 Energy Consumed in Physical Activity     Exercises 4 Angular Motion     4.1 Forces on a Curved Path     4.2 A Runner on a Curved Track     4.3 Pendulum     4.4 Walking     4.5 Physical Pendulum     4.6 Speed of Walking and Running     4.7 Energy Expended in Running     4.8 Alternate Perspectives on Walking and Running     4.9 Carrying Loads     Exercises 5 Elasticity and Strength of Materials     5.1 Longitudinal Stretch and Compression     5.2 A Spring     5.3 Bone Fracture: Energy Considerations     5.4 Impulsive Forces     5.5 Fracture Due to a Fall: Impulsive Force Considerations     5.6 Airbags: Inflating Collision Protection Devices     5.7 Whiplash Injury     5.8 Falling from Great Height     5.9 Osteoarthritis and Exercise     Exercises 6 Insect Flight     6.1 Hovering Flight     6.2 Insect Wing Muscles     6.3 Power Required for Hovering     6.4 Kinetic Energy of Wings in Flight     6.5 Elasticity of Wings     Exercises 7 Fluids     7.1 Force and Pressure in a Fluid     7.2 Pascal’s Principle     7.3 Hydrostatic Skeleton     7.4 Archimedes’ Principle     7.5 Power Required to Remain Afloat     7.6 Buoyancy of Aquatic Animals     7.7 Surface Tension     7.8 Soil Water     7.9 Insect Locomotion on Water     7.10 Contraction of Muscles     7.11 Surfactants     Exercises 8 The Motion of Fluids     8.1 Bernoulli’s Equation     8.2 Viscosity and Poiseuille’s Law     8.3 Turbulent Flow     8.4 Circulation of the Blood     8.5 Blood Pressure     8.6 Control of Blood Flow     8.7 Energetics of Blood Flow     8.8 Turbulence in the Blood     8.9 Arteriosclerosis and Blood Flow     8.10 Power Produced by the Heart     8.11 Measurement of Blood Pressure     Exercises 9 Heat and Kinetic Theory     9.1 Heat and Hotness     9.2 Kinetic Theory of Matter     9.3 Definitions          9.3.1 Unit of Heat          9.3.2 Specific Heat          9.3.3 Latent Heats     9.4 Transfer of Heat          9.4.1 Conduction          9.4.2 Convection          9.4.3 Radiation          9.4.4 Diffusion     9.5 Transport of Molecules by Diffusion     9.6 Diffusion through Membranes     9.7 The Respiratory System     9.8 Surfactants and Breathing     9.9 Diffusion and Contact Lenses     Exercises 10 Thermodynamics     10.1 First Law of Thermodynamics     10.2 Second Law of Thermodynamics     10.3 Difference between Heat and Other Forms of Energy     10.4 Thermodynamics of Living Systems     10.5 Information and the Second Law     Exercises 11 Heat and Life     11.1 Energy Requirements of People          11.1.1 Basal Metabolic Rate and Body Size     11.2 Energy from Food     11.3 Regulation of Body Temperature     11.4 Control of Skin Temperature     11.5 Convection     11.6 Radiation     11.7 Radiative Heating by the Sun     11.8 Evaporation     11.9 Resistance to Cold     11.10 Heat and Soil     Exercises 12 Waves and Sound     12.1 Properties of Sound     12.2 Some Properties of Waves          12.2.1 Reflection and Refraction          12.2.2 Interference          12.2.3 Diffraction     12.3 Hearing and the Ear          12.3.1 Performance of the Ear          12.3.2 Frequency and Pitch          12.3.3 Intensity and Loudness     12.4 Bats and Echoes     12.5 Sounds Produced by Animals     12.6 Acoustic Traps     12.7 Clinical Uses of Sound     12.8 Ultrasonic Waves     Exercises 13 Electricity     13.1 The Nervous System          13.1.1 The Neuron          13.1.2 Electrical Potentials in the Axon          13.1.3 Action Potential          13.1.4 Axon as an Electric Cable          13.1.5 Propagation of the Action Potential          13.1.6 An Analysis of the Axon Circuit          13.1.7 Synaptic Transmission          13.1.8 Action Potentials in Muscles          13.1.9 Surface Potentials     13.2 Electricity in Plants     13.3 Electricity in the Bone     13.4 Electric Fish     Exercises 14 Electrical Technology     14.1 Electrical Technology in Biological Research     14.2 Diagnostic Equipment          14.2.1 The Electrocardiograph          14.2.2 The Electroencephalograph     14.3 Physiological Effects of Electricity     14.4 Control Systems     14.5 Feedback     14.6 Sensory Aids          14.6.1 Hearing Aids          14.6.2 Cochlear Implant     Exercises 15 Optics     15.1 Vision     15.2 Nature of Light     15.3 Structure of the Eye     15.4 Accommodation     15.5 Eye and the Camera          15.5.1 Aperture and Depth of Field     15.6 Lens System of the Eye     15.7 Reduced Eye     15.8 Retina     15.9 Resolving Power of the Eye     15.10 Threshold of Vision     15.11 Vision and the Nervous System     15.12 Defects in Vision     15.13 Lens for Myopia     15.14 Lens for Presbyopia and Hyperopia     15.15 Extension of Vision          15.15.1 Telescope          15.15.2 Microscope          15.15.3 Confocal Microscopy          15.15.4 Fiber Optics     Exercises 16 Atomic Physics     16.1 The Atom     16.2 Spectroscopy     16.3 Quantum Mechanics     16.4 Electron Microscope     16.5 X-rays     16.6 X-ray Computerized Tomography     16.7 Lasers          16.7.1 Lasers Surgery          16.7.2 Lasers in Medical Imaging          16.7.3 Lasers in Medical Diagnostics     16.8 Atomic Force Microscopy     Exercises 17 Nuclear Physics     17.1 The Nucleus     17.2 Magnetic Resonance Imaging          17.2.1 Nuclear Magnetic Resonance          17.2.2 Imaging with NMR          17.2.3 Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)     17.3 Radiation Therapy     17.4 Food Preservation by Radiation     17.5 Isotopic Tracers     17.6 Laws of Physics and Life     Exercises 18 Nanotechnology in Biology and Medicine     18.1 Nanostructures     18.2 Nanotechnology     18.3 Some Properties of Nanostructures          18.3.1 Optical Properties of Metal Nanoparticles          18.3.2 Surface Properties of Metal Nanoparticles          18.3.3 Superhydrophilicity of Nano-Structured Surfaces     18.4 Medical Applications of Nanotechnology          18.4.1 Nanoparticles as Biosensors          18.4.2 Nanotechnology in Cancer Therapy          18.4.3 Passive Targeted Heating of Tumors          18.4.4 Targeted Drug Delivery          18.4.5 Silver Nanoparticles in Medicine     18.5 Concerns Over Use of Nanoparticles in Consumer Products     Exercises Appendix A: Basic Concepts in Mechanics Appendix B: Review of Electricity Appendix C: Review of Optics Bibliography Answers to Numerical Exercises Index

Quotes and reviews

"The text provides clear descriptions of medical devices and techniques such as MRI, CAT scan and cochlear implant. It discusses biological systems that can be analyzed quantitatively and shows how advances in the life sciences have been aided by the knowledge of physical or engineering analysis techniques."--Anticancer Research, August 2013

Reviews from the 2e:

"This is a book you should consider if you are teaching the one-semester premed course. This text could be used in two ways: 1) as a text for a one-term course in the physics of the body (without calculus) for non-physics majors in premed or allied health programs, or 2) as a supplementary text for the introductory physics course, particularly for premed students."--Russell Hobbie, University of Minnesota
"There is certainly a viable market (for this book), if not as a stand-alone physics text, as a collection of problems, examples, and discussions at the boundary between physics and biology and medicine. It is very well written; it is certainly accurate; and it is pretty complete."--David Cinabro, Wayne State University

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