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Competency E3

Page history last edited by Dylan Bargteil 10 years, 5 months ago

 BERG > HHMI project > Physics Competencies  


Competency E3: Demonstrate knowledge of basic physical principles and their applications to the understanding of living systems.


Learning Objectives:


 1. Demonstrate understanding of mechanics as applied to human and

diagnostic systems.




  • Explain the interrelationships among work, energy, force, and acceleration.
  • Apply knowledge of centripetal acceleration to “g-force” devices used to train jet pilots and astronauts.
  • Explain the mechanical basis for molecular and cellular separation technologies (i.e., centrifugation and chromatography).
  • Apply knowledge of mechanics to movement in biological systems at various scales, from the molecular to the organismal.


2. Demonstrate knowledge of the principles of electricity and magnetism (e.g., charge, current flow, resistance, capacitance, electrical potential, and magnetic fields).




  • Explain how the time to charge or discharge a capacitor depends on the capacitance and the resistance in the charging or discharging circuit.
  • Apply concepts of resistance and capacitance to the electrical properties of myelinated and unmyelinated axons and how those properties affect the travel speed of action potentials in those types of neurons.
  • Apply understanding of electrical principles to the hazards of electrical currents and voltages.
  • Describe how electrical currents establish magnetic fields and how time-varying magnetic fields induce electrical currents in materials, such as metals or biological tissue.


3. Demonstrate knowledge of wave generation and propagation to the

production and transmission of radiation.




  • Apply geometric optics to understand image formation in the eye.
  • Apply wave optics to understand the limits of image resolution in the eye.
  • Apply knowledge of sound waves to describe the use and limitations of ultrasound imaging.


4. Demonstrate knowledge of the principles of thermodynamics and fluid motion.




  • Explain mechanisms of heat transfer.
  • Apply knowledge of the laws of thermodynamics to processes at various scales.
  • Explain the thermodynamics of simple diffusion through biological membranes.
  • Explain how viscosity affects blood flow.


5. Demonstrate knowledge of principles of quantum mechanics, such as atomic and molecular energy levels, spin, and ionizing radiation.




  • Use knowledge of atomic structure to explain the origin of ionizing radiation and its interaction with matter.
  • Apply physical principles to explain the generation, detection, and analysis of magnetic resonance signals.
  • Apply knowledge of molecular energy levels to explain how structural information is obtained from vibrational spectroscopy.
  • Apply the principles of electromagnetic radiation and its interactions with matter.


6. Demonstrate knowledge of principles of systems behavior, including input–output relationships and positive and negative feedback.




  • Use input–output relationships to understand the efficiency of converting food energy into muscular motion.
  • Apply negative feedback principles to explain how temperature is regulated in buildings and in the human body.
  • Apply positive feedback principles to explain action potentials.

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