First cycle
degree courses
Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Science
Course unit
SC01122850, A.A. 2017/18

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2016/17

Information on the course unit
Degree course First cycle degree in
SC1166, Degree course structure A.Y. 2015/16, A.Y. 2017/18
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 6.0
Type of assessment Mark
Website of the academic structure
Department of reference Department of Biology
Mandatory attendance
Language of instruction Italian
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit

Teacher in charge FULVIO BALDOVIN FIS/02

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary 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
Hours of
Individual study
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 nano-manipulation 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 sub-cellular 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 .
Sodium-potassium 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. Cerca nel catalogo