Presentation on theme: "What is Biophysics? Short answer: Application of physics methods to biological systems. To get a better perspective, we consider a very brief history of."— Presentation transcript:
1 What is Biophysics?Short answer: Application of physics methods to biological systems.To get a better perspective, we consider a very brief history of physics.Classical eraMechanics (Newton)Electromagnetism (Maxwell)Thermodynamics/Statistical MechanicsQuantum eraRelativity (Einstein)Quantum Mechanics (Schroedinger, Heisenberg, Dirac)Quantum Field Theory (Feynman, Schwinger, Tomonaga)1950-present Modern eraDevelopment of physics methods are complete. Their applications tomatter at all scales, however, are continuing and expanding.
2 Main branches of physics Particle physics (QFT)Nuclear physics (QM)Atomic and molecular physics, optics (QM)Chemical physics (QM, CM, SM)Condensed matter/solid state physics (QM, CM)Soft matter physics/biophysics (QM, CM, SM)Plasma physics (CM, SM)Astrophysics (CM)Dirac’s quote:The fundamental laws necessary for the mathematical treatment of alarge part of physics and the whole of chemistry are thus completelyknown, and the difficulty lies only in the fact that application ofthese laws leads to equations that are too complex to be solved..
3 Impact of computers on physics Most of physics practiced today deals with many-particle problems.None of these developments would have been possible without thecomputing power provided by digital computers.As the physical system under study gets more complicated, one needsmore computing power to tackle it.This is the main reason for Biophysics being the latest entry among thecurrent applications of physics.Papers published on molecular biology using molec. dynamics simulations.
4 Brief history of Biophysics 1943 Schroedinger “What is life?”Watson and Crick – Double helix structure of DNA 1) DNA -> RNA -> protein, 2) Duplication problem1960-present – Exponential growth in protein structure determination via X-ray and NMR methods (computers play an essential role)2001 Craig Venter – Complete reading of human genomeTwo major problems in molecular biology:Protein folding (finding the tertiary structure given the primary seq.)Molecular recognition and assembly.
5 Paradigm shift in Molecular Biology A young science is always dominated by experimental work and isqualitative in its description rather than quantitative.As it matures, theory/computations take a complementary role, whicheventually results in the standard scientific approach:Exp. Data Model/theory Prediction Exp. testThanks to increases in computing power, biomolecules can now bedescribed near experimental accuracy. Thus we are entering aquantitative phase in molecular biology where physical models will playcrucial roles in further developments in biophysics..