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Biological Physics

Supramolecular Structures Lab
Lösche/Heinrich Group

Introduction to Biological Physics


Course IDs: 33-441 / 03-439

credit points: 10 / 9

Course Meeting Times

Tuesdays, Thursdays: 15:00 – 16:20, WeH 5304

First day of lecture: Tuesday, September 1, 2015.

Consultation Hours

Thursdays: 9:00 – 10:00, or by appointment (Amanda Bodnar, 8-8367)

Course Objectives

This intermediate level course is primarily offered to Physics and Biology undergrads (junior / senior) and provides a modern view of molecular and cellular biology as seen from the perspective of physics, and quantified through the analytical tools of physics. This course will not review experimental biophysical techniques (which are covered, e.g., in 03-871). Rather, physicists will learn what sets “bio” apart from the remainder of the Physics world and how the apparent dilemma that the existence of life represents to classical thermodynamics is reconciled. They also will learn the nomenclature used in molecular biology. In turn, biologists will obtain (a glimpse of) what quantitative tools can achieve beyond the mere collecting and archiving of facts in a universe of observations: By devising models, non-obvious quantitative predictions are derived which can be experimentally tested and may lead to threads that connect vastly different, apparently unrelated phenomena. One major goal is then to merge the two areas, physics and biology, in a unified perspective.


Philip Nelson, Biological Physics: Energy, Information, Life.
Updated first edition. Freeman & Co., NY 2008, ISBN: 0-7167-9897-2


Problem sets (40%), in-class exams (30%), final exam (30%)

Exam Schedule

in-class exams:
exam I: October 20
exam II: November 24
final exam: December 20, 1 p.m., location: TBA




Course syllabus

lecture notes
Jackson Polymer Intro
Guoy-Chapman results (Nov-19)

In-class exam II has been shifted to Nov-24, 2015!

MT 1: Oct.-20
MT 2: Nov.-24, solution key
Final: Dec-20, 1:00 pm

classroom graphics and illustrations
Chapters 1/2

HW 1, due Sept-17 – solution
HW 2, due Sept-26 – solution
HW 3, due Oct-06 – solution
HW 4, due Oct-15 – solution
HW 5, due Oct-22 – solution
HW 6, due Nov-03 – solution
HW 7, due Nov-10 – solution
HW 8, due Nov-17 – solution
HW 9, due Dec-01
HW 10, due Dec-08

Teaching Home

Intro to Biol. Physics, F'15

Grad Course in Biol. Physics, S'15