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Physics of Life (from Motors to Nerve Pulses)


Admission requirements

Elementary Physics and knowledge of the content of the first 7 chapters of the course book by Nelson


This lecture focusses on elementary physical processes in living cells. Entropy is the key concept to understand enzymes and molecular machines. One central topic are nerve impulses.

  • Entropy, temperature and free energy (a recap)

  • Chemical forces and self assembly

  • Cooperative transitions in macromolecules

  • Enzymes and molecular machines

  • Molecular machines in membranes

  • Nerve impulses

Course objectives

  • Evaluate and synthesize new information to describe the Physics of biological processes in living cells

  • Develop a good conceptual understanding for biological physics and chemical aspects

  • Get an appreciation of the relevant physical phenomena and principles

  • Develop aspects of the underlying physics and be able to apply relevant concepts



Mode of instruction

Lecture and tutor sessions

Assessment method

Talk (given by student) and Final Exam (written, open book)


More information will be available on Blackboard UL

Reading list

Book: Philip Nelson, Biological Physics Palgrave Macmillan (Aug 31, 2007) ISBN-13: 978-0716798972
EUR 57,95


Contact details lecturer: Dr. D.Heinrich(Doris)

More information will be available on Blackboard