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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 2013
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