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Biological Physics

Supramolecular Structures Lab
Lösche/Heinrich Group

Introduction to Biological Physics


lecturer: P. Mathias Lösche

Course IDs: 33-441 / 03-439

credit points: 10 / 9

Course Meeting Times

Tuesdays, Thursdays: 15:00 – 16:20, Porter Hall A21

First day of lecture: Tuesday, August 27, 2019.

Consultation Hours

Thursdays: 9:00 – 10:00, or by appointment (Theresa Gabrielli, 8-8367)
office: Wean Hall 6311

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

Further reading:
Meyer B. Jackson, Molecular and Cellular Biophysics,
Cambridge Univ. Press 2006
Rob Phillips et al., Physical Biology of the Cell,
Garland Science 2008


Problem sets (40%), in-class exams (30%), final exam (30%)
Final gades are determined as follows: Total % >85: A; >75: B; >65: C; >50: D

Exam Schedule

in-class exams:
• exam I: 10/17/2019
• exam II: 11/14/2019
final exam: 12/15/2019, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., Porter A21





course overview


lecture notes

biology numbers
polymer physics: MB Jackson
review of topics: final exam



physics equations: final exam
final exam: solutions

classroom graphics and illustrations


Teaching Home

Intro to Biol. Physics, F'19

Grad Course in Biol. Physics, S'19