
Course unit
BIOLOGICAL PHYSICS AND SUPPLEMENTARY MATHEMATICS
SC01122850, A.A. 2017/18
Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2016/17
ECTS: details
Type 
ScientificDisciplinary Sector 
Credits allocated 
Basic courses 
FIS/01 
Experimental Physics 
2.0 
Basic courses 
FIS/02 
Theoretical Physics, Mathematical Models and Methods 
1.0 
Basic courses 
FIS/03 
Material Physics 
1.0 
Basic courses 
MAT/05 
Mathematical Analysis 
2.0 
Mode of delivery (when and how)
Period 
First semester 
Year 
2nd Year 
Teaching method 
frontal 
Organisation of didactics
Type of hours 
Credits 
Hours of teaching 
Hours of Individual study 
Shifts 
Practice 
1.0 
16 
9.0 
No turn 
Lecture 
5.0 
40 
85.0 
No turn 
Start of activities 
02/10/2017 
End of activities 
19/01/2018 
Prerequisites:

General Physics. Calculus (e.g., derivatives, integrals) in one variable. Basic cell functions. 
Target skills and knowledge:

Thanks to present day micro and nanomanipulation techniques, modern molecular biology emerges as an interdisciplinary subject in which chemical and biological competences overlap with the knowledge of the physical laws ruling the complex behavior at the cellular scale. The course targets a double goal. From one side, to refine and introduce basic mathematical and physical tools allowing the statistical description of complex cellular and subcellular systems. From the other side, to apply this knowledge to quantitatively describe fundamental biological processes, like, e.g., the transmission of nerve impulses, active ion pumping across membranes, the receptor/ligand mechanism for the activation of specific biological functions, regulation and defensive strategies to osmotic pressure shocks.
After reviewing and extending mathematical calculus in one and many variables, the laws of diffusion are deduced on the basis of probability theory results. Then, the notion of entropy and free energy is quantitatively applied to molecular biological processes. 
Examination methods:

Written test followed by an oral examination. 
Assessment criteria:

The capability of manipulating physical quantities, laws, and models underlying cell and biological devices functioning will be evaluated. For this reason, the written test proposes the solution of problems for which the support of the book and of the lecture notes is allowed. During the oral discussion the candidate will be tested with respect to her/his knowledge insight and skills in elaborating logical deductions within the above context. 
Course unit contents:

Review of basic Physics, Chemistry and Thermodynamics applied to Biology.
Calculus in one and many variables.
Overview of cellular structure.
Elements of Probability Theory.
Physics from nanometric to metric scale.
Brownian Motion, Diffusion and Dissipation.
Entropy, Temperature and Free Energy.
The action of entropic forces .
Sodiumpotassium pumping, ionic channels, and the transmission of nerve impulses. 
Planned learning activities and teaching methods:

Classic (blackboard) lecturing, occasional video and figure projections. 
Additional notes about suggested reading:

Lecture notes available online. 
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings) 

Philip Nelson, Biological Physics – Energy, Information, Life.. New York: Freeman, 2008.


