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Physics in Biology and Medicine - 4th Edition - ISBN: 9780123865137, 9780123865144

Physics in Biology and Medicine

4th Edition

Author: Paul Davidovits
Paperback ISBN: 9780123865137
eBook ISBN: 9780123865144
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 5th December 2012
Page Count: 352
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Table of Contents



1 Static Forces

1.1 Equilibrium and Stability

1.2 Equilibrium Considerations for the Human Body

1.3 Stability of the Human Body under the Action of an External Force

1.4 Skeletal Muscles

1.5 Levers

1.6 The Elbow

1.7 The Hip

1.7.1 Limping

1.8 The Back

1.9 Standing Tip-Toe on One Foot

1.10 Dynamic Aspects of Posture


2 Friction

2.1 Standing at an Incline

2.2 Friction at the Hip Joint

2.3 Spine Fin of a Catfish


3 Translational Motion

3.1 Vertical Jump

3.2 Effect of Gravity on the Vertical Jump

3.3 Running High Jump

3.4 Range of a Projectile

3.5 Standing Broad Jump

3.6 Running Broad Jump (Long Jump)

3.7 Motion through Air

3.8 Energy Consumed in Physical Activity


4 Angular Motion

4.1 Forces on a Curved Path

4.2 A Runner on a Curved Track

4.3 Pendulum

4.4 Walking

4.5 Physical Pendulum

4.6 Speed of Walking and Running

4.7 Energy Expended in Running

4.8 Alternate Perspectives on Walking and Running

4.9 Carrying Loads


5 Elasticity and Strength of Materials

5.1 Longitudinal Stretch and Compression

5.2 A Spring

5.3 Bone Fracture: Energy Considerations

5.4 Impulsive Forces

5.5 Fracture Due to a Fall: Impulsive Force Considerations

5.6 Airbags: Inflating Collision Protection Devices

5.7 Whiplash Injury

5.8 Falling from Great Height

5.9 Osteoarthritis and Exercise


6 Insect Flight

6.1 Hovering Flight

6.2 Insect Wing Muscles

6.3 Power Required for Hovering

6.4 Kinetic Energy of Wings in Flight

6.5 Elasticity of Wings


7 Fluids

7.1 Force and Pressure in a Fluid

7.2 Pascal’s Principle

7.3 Hydrostatic Skeleton

7.4 Archimedes’ Principle

7.5 Power Required to Remain Afloat

7.6 Buoyancy of Aquatic Animals

7.7 Surface Tension

7.8 Soil Water

7.9 Insect Locomotion on Water

7.10 Contraction of Muscles

7.11 Surfactants


8 The Motion of Fluids

8.1 Bernoulli’s Equation

8.2 Viscosity and Poiseuille’s Law

8.3 Turbulent Flow

8.4 Circulation of the Blood

8.5 Blood Pressure

8.6 Control of Blood Flow

8.7 Energetics of Blood Flow

8.8 Turbulence in the Blood

8.9 Arteriosclerosis and Blood Flow

8.10 Power Produced by the Heart

8.11 Measurement of Blood Pressure


9 Heat and Kinetic Theory

9.1 Heat and Hotness

9.2 Kinetic Theory of Matter

9.3 Definitions

9.3.1 Unit of Heat

9.3.2 Specific Heat

9.3.3 Latent Heats

9.4 Transfer of Heat

9.4.1 Conduction

9.4.2 Convection

9.4.3 Radiation

9.4.4 Diffusion

9.5 Transport of Molecules by Diffusion

9.6 Diffusion through Membranes

9.7 The Respiratory System

9.8 Surfactants and Breathing

9.9 Diffusion and Contact Lenses


10 Thermodynamics

10.1 First Law of Thermodynamics

10.2 Second Law of Thermodynamics

10.3 Difference between Heat and Other Forms of Energy

10.4 Thermodynamics of Living Systems

10.5 Information and the Second Law


11 Heat and Life

11.1 Energy Requirements of People

11.1.1 Basal Metabolic Rate and Body Size

11.2 Energy from Food

11.3 Regulation of Body Temperature

11.4 Control of Skin Temperature

11.5 Convection

11.6 Radiation

11.7 Radiative Heating by the Sun

11.8 Evaporation

11.9 Resistance to Cold

11.10 Heat and Soil


12 Waves and Sound

12.1 Properties of Sound

12.2 Some Properties of Waves

12.2.1 Reflection and Refraction

12.2.2 Interference

12.2.3 Diffraction

12.3 Hearing and the Ear

12.3.1 Performance of the Ear

12.3.2 Frequency and Pitch

12.3.3 Intensity and Loudness

12.4 Bats and Echoes

12.5 Sounds Produced by Animals

12.6 Acoustic Traps

12.7 Clinical Uses of Sound

12.8 Ultrasonic Waves


13 Electricity

13.1 The Nervous System

13.1.1 The Neuron

13.1.2 Electrical Potentials in the Axon

13.1.3 Action Potential

13.1.4 Axon as an Electric Cable

13.1.5 Propagation of the Action Potential

13.1.6 An Analysis of the Axon Circuit

13.1.7 Synaptic Transmission

13.1.8 Action Potentials in Muscles

13.1.9 Surface Potentials

13.2 Electricity in Plants

13.3 Electricity in the Bone

13.4 Electric Fish


14 Electrical Technology

14.1 Electrical Technology in Biological Research

14.2 Diagnostic Equipment

14.2.1 The Electrocardiograph

14.2.2 The Electroencephalograph

14.3 Physiological Effects of Electricity

14.4 Control Systems

14.5 Feedback

14.6 Sensory Aids

14.6.1 Hearing Aids

14.6.2 Cochlear Implant


15 Optics

15.1 Vision

15.2 Nature of Light

15.3 Structure of the Eye

15.4 Accommodation

15.5 Eye and the Camera

15.5.1 Aperture and Depth of Field

15.6 Lens System of the Eye

15.7 Reduced Eye

15.8 Retina

15.9 Resolving Power of the Eye

15.10 Threshold of Vision

15.11 Vision and the Nervous System

15.12 Defects in Vision

15.13 Lens for Myopia

15.14 Lens for Presbyopia and Hyperopia

15.15 Extension of Vision

15.15.1 Telescope

15.15.2 Microscope

15.15.3 Confocal Microscopy

15.15.4 Fiber Optics


16 Atomic Physics

16.1 The Atom

16.2 Spectroscopy

16.3 Quantum Mechanics

16.4 Electron Microscope

16.5 X-rays

16.6 X-ray Computerized Tomography

16.7 Lasers

16.7.1 Lasers Surgery

16.7.2 Lasers in Medical Imaging

16.7.3 Lasers in Medical Diagnostics

16.8 Atomic Force Microscopy


17 Nuclear Physics

17.1 The Nucleus

17.2 Magnetic Resonance Imaging

17.2.1 Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

17.2.2 Imaging with NMR

17.2.3 Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

17.3 Radiation Therapy

17.4 Food Preservation by Radiation

17.5 Isotopic Tracers

17.6 Laws of Physics and Life


18 Nanotechnology in Biology and Medicine

18.1 Nanostructures

18.2 Nanotechnology

18.3 Some Properties of Nanostructures

18.3.1 Optical Properties of Metal Nanoparticles

18.3.2 Surface Properties of Metal Nanoparticles

18.3.3 Superhydrophilicity of Nano-Structured Surfaces

18.4 Medical Applications of Nanotechnology

18.4.1 Nanoparticles as Biosensors

18.4.2 Nanotechnology in Cancer Therapy

18.4.3 Passive Targeted Heating of Tumors

18.4.4 Targeted Drug Delivery

18.4.5 Silver Nanoparticles in Medicine

18.5 Concerns Over Use of Nanoparticles in Consumer Products


Appendix A: Basic Concepts in Mechanics

Appendix B: Review of Electricity

Appendix C: Review of Optics


Answers to Numerical Exercises



Physics in Biology and Medicine, Fourth Edition, covers topics in physics as they apply to the life sciences, specifically medicine, physiology, nursing and other applied health fields. This is a concise introductory paperback that provides practical techniques for applying knowledge of physics to the study of living systems and presents material in a straightforward manner requiring very little background in physics or biology. Applicable courses are Biophysics and Applied Physics.

This new edition discusses biological systems that can be analyzed quantitatively, and how advances in the life sciences have been aided by the knowledge of physical or engineering analysis techniques. The volume is organized into 18 chapters encompassing thermodynamics, electricity, optics, sound, solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, and atomic and nuclear physics. Each chapter provides a brief review of the background physics before focusing on the applications of physics to biology and medicine. Topics range from the role of diffusion in the functioning of cells to the effect of surface tension on the growth of plants in soil and the conduction of impulses along the nervous system. Each section contains problems that explore and expand some of the concepts. The text includes many figures, examples and illustrative problems and appendices which provide convenient access to the most important concepts of mechanics, electricity, and optics in the body.

Physics in Biology and Medicine will be a valuable resource for students and professors of physics, biology, and medicine, as well as for applied health workers.

Key Features

  • Provides practical techniques for applying knowledge of physics to the study of living systems
  • Presents material in a straight forward manner requiring very little background in physics or biology
  • Includes many figures, examples and illustrative problems and appendices which provide convenient access to the most important concepts of mechanics, electricity, and optics in the body


Premed students, Doctors, nurses, physiologists, or other applied health workers, and other individuals who wish to understand the nature of the mechanics of our bodies


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2012
5th December 2012
Academic Press
Paperback ISBN:
eBook ISBN:


"The text provides clear descriptions of medical devices and techniques such as MRI, CAT scan and cochlear implant. It discusses biological systems that can be analyzed quantitatively and shows how advances in the life sciences have been aided by the knowledge of physical or engineering analysis techniques."--Anticancer Research, August 2013

Reviews from the 2e:

"This is a book you should consider if you are teaching the one-semester premed course. This text could be used in two ways: 1) as a text for a one-term course in the physics of the body (without calculus) for non-physics majors in premed or allied health programs, or 2) as a supplementary text for the introductory physics course, particularly for premed students."--Russell Hobbie, University of Minnesota
"There is certainly a viable market (for this book), if not as a stand-alone physics text, as a collection of problems, examples, and discussions at the boundary between physics and biology and medicine. It is very well written; it is certainly accurate; and it is pretty complete."--David Cinabro, Wayne State University

Ratings and Reviews

About the Author

Paul Davidovits

Paul Davidovits, Professor of Chemistry at Boston College, was co-awarded the prestigious R.W. Wood prize from the Optical Society of America for his seminal work in optics. His contribution was foundational in the field of confocal microscopy, which allows engineers and biologists to produce optical sections through 3D objects such as semiconductor circuits, living tissues, or a single cell. He has published more than 150 papers in physical chemistry and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for Advancement of Science. The second edition of Physics in Biology and Medicine received the Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award in the Discipline of the Natural Sciences.

Affiliations and Expertise

Boston College, Massachusetts, USA