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Biological Physics (BioPhysics) + Kinematics

  1. Jun 3, 2008 #1
    Hey everyone,

    I was interested in knowing what the application if it is large kinematics plays in Biophysics? Particularly or actually mostly Molecular Biophysics. Is it used largely by Biophysicists or are more advanced topics and concepts the prevalent thought in this field?

    I primarily ask because I am currently planning on studying Biotechnology, which has no particular course in Biophysics as a requirement. I would love to though study some of the concepts from Biophysics and so I am currently doing a first year Calculus based Physics course. Now I wanted to know if I should spend a lot of time on the concepts or move on since my Professor is moving on to Forces next lecture.

    I know that I have to follow the Professor which I will, but I wanted to see if I need a strong grasp in kinematics for understanding in Biophysics?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 3, 2008 #2

    Andy Resnick

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    kinematics is used a lot in understanding skeletal muscle motion and balance (walking). At the molecular level, I have not seen much kinematics.

    "Biophysics" means different things to different people. Some people consider protein folding to be biophysics. Others consider biophysics to be a general application of physical principles to model biological systems.

    There does not appear to be an ideal introductory biophysics text; I like "Elementary Biophysics", by Srivastava and "Molecular Driving Forces" by Dill and Bromberg.
  4. Jun 8, 2008 #3


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    To some (including me partially), biophysics involves the application of tools from physics to solve biological problems. The use of many of these tools involves knowing important concepts from a 1st year physics course. For example, optical tweezers are used in molecular biophysics to pull on proteins in order to study their motion, folding, and other aspects of their function. Here a knowledge of forces, tension, torque, etc. are useful. Furthermore, for both optical tweezers and other techniques using lasers (e.g. microscopy, various fluorescence-based tools), a knowledge of E&M and optics is useful.

    Biophysics also involves studying the physical aspects of biological systems. Here, more advanced topics in math/physics are involved, including statistical mechanics, fluid mechanics, and nonlinear systems of differential equations. Kinematics, as it is taught in 1st year physics, isn't terribly useful in molecular biophysics, because different forces dominate on the molecular scale. Whereas 1st year physics courses tend to ignore the effects of friction and viscosity, viscous forces dominate on the molecular regime. An interesting discussion of this can be found in the paper "Life at Low Reynolds Number" by Ed Purcell (physics forums isn't letting me post a link, so type the title into google to find the article, or use the following doi: 10.1119/1.10903).
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