Physics of Life

The Physicist's Road to Biology


  • Clas Blomberg, Theoretical Biological Physics Group (KTH), Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

The purpose of the book is to give a survey of the physics that is relevant for biological applications, and also to discuss what kind of biology needs physics. The book gives a broad account of basic physics, relevant for the applications and various applications from properties of proteins to processes in the cell to wider themes such as the brain, the origin of life and evolution. It also considers general questions of common interest such as reductionism, determinism and randomness, where the physics view often is misunderstood. The subtle balance between order and disorder is a repeated theme appearing in many contexts. There are descriptive parts which shall be sufficient for the comprehension of general ideas, and more detailed, formalistic parts for those who want to go deeper, and see the ideas expressed in terms of mathematical formulas.
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Students, researchers and professionals in physics and biology


Book information

  • Published: October 2007
  • Imprint: ELSEVIER
  • ISBN: 978-0-444-52798-1

Table of Contents

I. General Introduction1. Introduction2. Physics of Life. Physics of Two LevelsII. Basic Physics Concepts3. Concepts and Numerical Reference4. Basis of Classical (Newtonian) Dynamics5. Electricity - The Core of Reductionism Basis6. Quantum mechanics 7. Basic Thermodynamics; Introduction8. Statistical ThermodynamicsIII. The General Trends and the Objects9. Some Trends in 20th Century Physics10. From Simple to Complex Systems11. Theoretical Physics Models; Important Analogies12. The Biological Objects13. What is Life?IV. Going Further with Thermodynamics14. Thermodynamic Formalism and Examples15. Examples of Entropy and Order/Disorder16. Statistical Thermodynamics ModelsV. Stochastic Dynamics17. Basic Probability Concepts18. Stochastic Processes19. Random Walk*20. Stochastic Step Processes; Master Equations* 21. Brownian Motion, First Description*22. Diffusion and Continuous Stochastic Processes*23. Brownian Motion, Continuation*VI. Basic Macromolecular Applications24. Protein Folding and Structure Dynamics25. Basis of Enzyme KineticsVII Non-linearity 26. General Introduction to Non-linearity 27. Oscillations and Space Variations*28. Deterministic Chaos29. Noise and Nonlinear PhenomenaVIII. Applications30. Recognition and Selection in Biological Processes31. Brownian Ratchet, Unidirectional Processes32. Neural System33. Origin of LifeIX Going Further34. Physics Aspects on Evolution35. Determinism and Randomness36. Higher Functions of Life37. About the Direction of Time38. We are in the Best of Worlds; The Anthropic Principle