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Registration: Interim

Interim 2011


W80/IDIS W85 Biophysics.  Biophysics is a growing discipline in which the tools of physics are used to elucidate biological systems.   The course covers a broad spectrum of topics, including why ants can easily lift many times their own weight, how bees fly, why the cells of an elephant are the same size as those of a chipmunk, and why cats have a higher survival rate when dropped from taller heights. An additional feature of the course is that no calculators are used.  All results are achieved by estimation, with a focus on learning the art of approximation. The class is highly participatory and the hope is that students will make the application of physical reasoning to biophysical systems their own, so that they can draw on this skill in the future.   In addition to the above items, there is also a section devoted to the construction of simple biophysical simulations using the open source software package Sage, though no previous experience is required.  Objectives: Be able to apply the laws of physics and physical reasoning to biological systems.  Develop the art of estimation.  Run computer simulations of biological systems.  Evaluation will be based on homework, tests and labs.  This course may be used as an elective in the Biology major. Prerequisites: The course is designed to be accessible to any student with at least a semester of algebra based college physics or a year of algebra based high school physics. P. Harper.  2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.