An Introduction to Biophysics

An Introduction to Biophysics

An Introduction to Biophysics

An Introduction to Biophysics


As a result of the increased demands for physics by students whose primary interests lie in the biological sciences, this book has been written with the hope that it may lead to a fuller appreciation and understanding of the applications of physics to biological problems.

I trust that it will prove suitable as a textbook for mature students who have had a year's work in college mathematics followed by one year's study of the fundamental principles of physics and chemistry.

In lieu of a more appropriate name, it is proposed to designate all those biological observations which are explainable in terms of physical principles as biophysical phenomena. Which topics are representative of an ideal cross section of the available biophysical material is at present a debatable question. In order to avoid the imputation of superficiality in dealing with this cross section, only such subjects are discussed as are representative of the major subdivisions of physics.

In the general field of radiation no better example can be found of the cooperative effect of the biological and physical sciences than the problem of radiation therapy. Here, as in much of the biophysical research, the tools have been supplied by the physicist so that the medical scientist can use them to point the way in which the physicist should work to make the tools progressively more effective. This cooperative progress in the field of radiation is portrayed in the chapters on the biophysically active x-rays and applied radioactivity.

The influence of physics on physiological optics and acoustics is presented in the chapters discussing the biophysical characteristics of the eye and auditory biophysics.

In the field of physical optics, where its applications merge with the medical sciences, the emission and adsorption of biophysically active light are discussed because of the general desire for information dealing with the effect of ultraviolet radiation on life processes.

The possibility of revealing the nature of the living cell membrane is at present being pushed with great success through the study of the physical properties of molecular-film structures. The chapter discussing structure and properties of surfaces and membranes is introduced to illustrate how the modern molecular concept of matter is influencing the developments in this biophysical field of investigation.

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