Friday, October 26, 2007

I Heartily Recommend This Book

In the Jan/Feb 1999 issue of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, Cynthia Paschal reviewed the third edition of Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology. She wrote "This third edition of Hobbie’s fine text incorporates the best of the previous editions with some new topics and examples. As before, every chapter includes numerous figures, graphs, tables, and logically developed equations....I heartily recommend this book as the sole text for a year-long intermediate undergraduate course in biophysics. The text is also useful for an introductory biophysics graduate course."

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Nobel Prize

Last week the 2007 Nobel Prize winners were announced. Congratulations to these distinguished scientists. In the 4th edition of Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology, Russ Hobbie and I discuss many Nobel Laureates and their research:

1) Felix Bloch and Edward Purcell shared the 1952 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance (p. 519).

2) Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1963 for their research on nerve action potentials (p. 154).

3) The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was shared in 1979 by a physicist, Allan Cormack, and an engineer, Godfrey Hounsfield, for the development of computed tomography (p. 455).

4) Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1991 for the invention of the patch clamp technique for studying ion channels (p. 238).

5) For his work elucidating the structure of potassium channels (p. 240), Roderick MacKinnon shared the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Peter Agre.

6) Paul Lauterbur shared with Sir Peter Mansfield the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the development of magnetic resonance imaging (p. 527).

Medical and biological physics is truly interdisciplinary: it involves Nobel Prize-winning work in physics, chemistry, and physiology and medicine.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Distances and Sizes

One of the things Russ Hobbie and I added to the 4th edition of Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology is an introductory section about distances and sizes in Chapter 1 (pp. 1-3). Our goal is to introduce the relative sizes of different biological objects (cells, bacteria, viruses, etc.). We try to provide something similar to what you would find in Morrison's book "Powers of Ten" or in Goodsell's book "The Machinery of Life". The section also serves as a nice way to introduce many of the topics developed in more detail later in the book, and allows students to practice the valuable skill of making back-of-the-envelope estimates, such as estimating the number of hemoglobin molecules in one red blood cell. We hope you like it.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Medical Physics: The Perfect Intermediate Level Physics Class

In 2001, Nelson Christensen of Carleton College published an article in the European Journal of Physics (vol. 22, pp. 421-427) titled "Medical Physics: the Perfect Intermediate Level Physics Class." The primary textbook for his class was the 3rd Edition of Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology. Below is the conclusion to his paper:

"A medical physics course should be looked upon as a beneficial addition to the undergraduate physics curriculum. The course should be considered as an ideal addition to the intermediate level physics curriculum, as it covers almost all of the major subjects that physics undergraduates should see. Students are often bored by lack of direct applications or good examples when covering physics subjects. In our class we talked about physics within the context of medical applications. For every physical topic there was a medical application; students loved it.

The interdisciplinary nature of a course like medical physics offers other advantages. A course like this provides an opportunity for keen pre-medical students to return to physics. A number of the pre-meds are genuinely interested in physics, but lack a good opportunity or reason to take an upper-level physics course. The differing backgrounds of the physics and pre- medical students presented an additional benefit in that a fantastic environment for stimulating discussions was created. The students would share with one-another their expertise.

Finally, there can be no denying that medical physics and biomedical engineering are evolving at a breakneck pace. There are opportunities available in abundance in these fields. Students are interested in medical physics for a number of reasons. There are equally good reasons for the faculty to provide a course in medical physics. This is exciting physics and exciting science!"