Physics in Biology and Medicine

Physics in Biology and Medicine, 5th edition

Paul Davidovits, Academic Press, 2018, ISBN: 9780128137161, xviii+ 358 pages, $85

From the book back cover copy: “Paul Davidovits’ Physics in Biology and Medicine provides a high-quality and highly relevant physics grounding for students working toward careers in the medical and related professions. The text does not assume a prior background in physics, but provides it as required.” Furthermore, “This revised edition delivers a concise and engaging introduction to the role and importance of physics in biology and medicine. It is ideal for courses in biophysics, medical physics, and related subjects.” This reviewer agrees with the above, and highly recommends consideration of this text as a supplement to introductory physics or bioengineering courses, and as a potential student recruitment tool to interest students to bioengineering topics and programs.

The body of text consists of 18 chapters: Static Forces, Friction, Translational Motion, Angular Motion, Elasticity and Strength of Materials, Insect Flight, Fluids, The Motion of Fluids, Heat and Kinetic Theory, Thermodynamics, Heat and Life, Waves and Sound, Electricity, Electrical Technology, Optics, Atomic Physics, Nuclear Physics, and Nanotechnology in Biology and Medicine. Three appendixes— Basic Concepts in Mechanics, Review of Electricity, and Review of Optics—are added to assist the reader( s) who might need a review of these basics prior to study of the aforementioned chapters.

Most biomedical (or bioengineering) curricula require a full year of physics, with laboratories, and cover far more topics than the above. The value of this text is that it can be used as a supplement to a standard physics course, or can be used to justify the “medical” part of a medical physics class, can be used in an introductory bioengineering seminar, or can be used to elaborate on topics in physiology for engineers.

It supplements through the choice of examples, which is the distinguishing character of this text. A few examples:

  • The chapter on Translational Motion covers estimation of human jumping height, pole jumping height, broad jump length, terminal velocity of a jumper, etc.
  • The chapter on Insect Flight covers energy expenditure for hovering, wing frequency, etc.
  • The chapter titled Fluids covers the dynamics of swimming and floating, as well as the dynamics involved with water bugs.
  • The chapter on Electricity covers neurons, membrane circuits, recharging costs, and the sensitivity of sharks to electric fields.
  • The chapter on Atomic Physics covers the gamut from atoms and molecules to atomic force microscopy.
  • The chapter on Nuclear Physics covers the nucleus to MRI to the use of radioactive tracers.

Each chapter contains a reasonable number of figures and diagrams. Each chapter includes several relevant exercises. A sampling of the exercise solutions may be found in the appendix. An instructor solutions manual is also available through the publisher. Lastly, there in a 121-item bibliography that may be used to obtain additional information on several of the discussed topics.

As above, this text is recommended for use in engineering in medicine and biology-related introductory courses. It is replete with good examples.