The Physics of Viruses

The Physics of Viruses

1st Edition - January 1, 1953

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  • Author: Ernest C. Pollard
  • eBook ISBN: 9781483270920

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The Physics of Viruses presents what is known about viruses from the viewpoint of a physicist. In so doing, a major aim has proved to be the description of viruses, their shape, and structure. Rather surprisingly, definite shapes and structures are emerging, and it is with a heightened sense of excitement that the hoped-for simplicity and symmetry are beginning to be found. The book contains eight chapters and opens with a discussion of the nature of viruses and their relation to physics. Subsequent chapters present studies on the size, shape, and hydration of viruses; the effects of ionizing radiation on viruses, thermal inactivation of viruses, biological effects of ultraviolet light, sonic and osmotic effects on viruses, and virus genetics and multiplication. The account given here should interest not only the physicist but that growing body of students who admit to being virologists as well. There is no doubt that the processes of viruses are in some way the processes of biology, so that the fundamental actions of biology may well be clarified by thinking about how viruses perform their work.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword

    I. The Nature of Viruses and Their Relation to Physics


    Outline of Virology

    Virus Multiplication

    Size and Shape of Viruses

    Mutation of Viruses

    Mutual Interference of Viruses

    Virus Attenuation After Multiple Passage

    Chemical Composition of Viruses

    Virus Serology


    Purified Virus Preparations

    Virus Assay

    Origin of Viruses

    Physics and the Study of Viruses

    II. The Size, Shape, and Hydration of Viruses

    Optical Microscopy

    Electron Microscopy


    Observations of the Motion of Viruses



    Sedimentation Technique

    Diffusion-Constant Measurement During Sedimentation

    Hydrated Partial Specific Volume


    Asymmetric Particles

    Examples of the Use of Virus Motion Studies

    X-Ray Diffraction Applied to Viruses

    Small-Angle X-Ray Scattering by Viruses

    Picture of a Virus

    Identity of Physical Particle and Infectious Unit

    Virus Dimensions

    III. Ionizing Radiation And Viruses

    Nature of Energy Loss by Fast Charged Particles

    Space Distribution of Primary Ionizations

    Experimental Methods and Some Results

    Analysis of Bombardment Results

    The Action of X-Rays

    Secondary Radiation Effects

    Summary of Utility of Radiation Studies

    Results of Infectivity Studies

    Combined Thermal and Ionizing-Radiation Action on a Virus

    Structural Deductions

    Varied Effects of X-Radiation on Bacteriophage

    Structural Inferences from Radiation Studies

    IV. Thermal Inactivation of Viruses

    Outline of the Theory of Thermal Inactivation

    Thermal Inactivation of Viruses

    Inactivation as a Function of pH

    Pressure Effects on Thermal Inactivation

    Conclusions from Thermal-Inactivation Studies

    V. The Surface Of Viruses

    Surface Functions of Viruses


    Polypeptide Attachment

    Virus Serology

    Neutralization of Infectivity

    Surface Inactivation by Antibody

    Serological Inactivation of Viruses

    Thermal Inactivation of Serological Affinity


    Nature of the Virus Surface

    VI. Action of Ultraviolet Light on Viruses

    Molecular Absorption of Ultraviolet Light

    Absorption by Some Definite Molecules

    The Absorption Spectrum of Tobacco Mosaic Virus

    Absorption Spectra of Other Viruses

    Action Spectra

    Infectivity and Hemagglutination Action Spectra of Influenza Virus

    Action Spectra for Different Viruses

    Quantum Yield

    Multiplicity Reactivation after Ultraviolet Treatment

    Photoreactivation of Bacteriophage

    Summary and Conclusions from Action Spectra

    VII. Sonic and Osmotic Effects on Viruses

    Pressures Developed


    Sonic Irradiation Procedures

    Sonic Effects on Viruses

    Osmotic Effects on Viruses

    VIII. Virus Genetics, Virus Multiplication, and Virus Physics

    Virus Recombination and Virus Genetics

    Bacterial Virus Multiplication

    Radiophosphorous Studies of Phage

    Summary of Pertinent Facts about Viruses

    Description of Present Knowledge of Virus Multiplication

    Description of a Virus

    The Energy Turnover in the Host

    Forces Operative in Virus Multiplication

    Ionic Atmosphere, or Double-Layer Forces

    Van der Waals Forces between Macromolecules

    Fluctuating Proton Charge Forces

    Potential Energy Diagrams for Two Macromolecules

    Author Index

    Subject Index

Product details

  • No. of pages: 242
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 1953
  • Published: January 1, 1953
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9781483270920

About the Author

Ernest C. Pollard

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