Course director: Mark Goulian
A survey of basic biological processes at all levels of organization (molecule, cell, organism, population) in the light of simple ideas from physics. Both the most ancient and the most modern physics ideas can help explain emergent aspects of life, i.e., those which are largely independent of specific details and cut across many different classes of organisms. Topics may include thermal physics, entropic forces, free energy transduction, structure of biopolymers, molecular motors, cell signaling and biochemical circuits, nerve impulses and neural computing, populations and evolution, and the origins of life on Earth and elsewhere.
Prerequisites: PHYS 401 or CHEM 221-222 (may be taken concurrently) or familiarity with basic statistical mechanics and thermodynamics. Recommended: Basic background in chemistry and biology.