Modern biology is the product of years of evolution. Many problems have been solved by the classical descriptive approach. More and more, the remaining questions are intimately concerned with the responses of the individual cell, or with subtle interrelationships. These problems remain because they are difficult to observe. It has become increasingly important to rely upon quantitative observations and upon the tools provided by chemistry, physics, and mathematics.
The great middle ground between the biological and physical sciences can can be approached from either side. Biologists continue the attack using their own methods. Numerous competent physical scientists have been challenged by the intricacy of the living organism. Unfortunately, communications between these two groups are often difficult. The biologist considers the physical scientist with awe, and the physical scientist considers the biologist with either awe or disdain. Some of us are foolhardy enough to think that we can operate at the middle of this area and can arrive at answers most directly. We prefer to be called physically-oriented biologists rather than biophysicists or biochemists. But the experimental approach is the same.
A fraction of the failure of communications between the biological and physical sciences results from impressions or prejudices developed during the training period. The present work was undertaken in an attempt to introduce the biologist and the physical scientist to each other at an early age, before these preconceptions have a chance to develop. The chief hope is that young biologists can learn to appreciate the physical approach to problems and that the young physical scientist can learn some of the fascination of biological research.
The book has grown out of a course that is offered at the University of Utah. This course in Experimental Biology is itself an experimental introduction to biological research. Experience has taught us that undergraduates can apply the experimental approach to biological problems. This book was written to help make the learning processes faster and easier. In addition, some graduate students seem not to know some of the things they should have learned as undergraduates. But where and when were they supposed . . .