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Readings Physics 132

Page history last edited by Joe Redish 11 years, 9 months ago

 BERG > Physics Course Overview > HHMI Development page


Physics 132: Fundamentals of Physics for Biologists II

This course is intended for biology majors and pre-health care professionals. The physics topics chosen are selected for these students and the contexts emphasize authentic biological examples. Prerequisites for the course include:

  • One year of college biology (BSCI 105 and 106 or the equivalent)
  • One semester of college chemistry (CHEM 131 or the equivalent)
  • One year of college mathematics (MATH 130 and 131 or the equivalent -- calculus and an introduction to probability).
  • One semester of physics for biologists (PHYS 131) including discussions of electric forces, diffusion, and entropy.

The materials created for this class are "in-process" drafts. We expect to revise and expand them significantly in the 2012-2014 period. Comments and suggestions should be sent to Prof. E. F. Redish.



These readings are intended as a base for a wikibook that can serve as a base from which students can start.  Each link connects to a webpage of content materials. Those listed in bold were explicitly assigned in the Spring of 2011. The unbolded pages were optional reading. Note these are linked materials.  They are not intended to be read as a linear textbook.  For example, some of the math elements are linked to elements that occur much later.  They were read at the appropriate time. They are not intended as a replacement for all the components present in a traditional textbook.


Readers will notice the absence of sample solved problems, for example, and problems for student homework and in-class discussions. In our delivery of this class they are used in conjunction with an extensive set of clicker questions, problems for group problem solving, and homework problems (to be distributed later).


Class homepage and description (Spring 2012)


Reading Assignments for 131

It is assumed that students taking 131 will have read the readings assigned for 131.


Energy: The Quantity of Motion (review)

The 1st law of thermodynamics (review)

Thermodynamic equilibrium and equipartition



Probability (math review -- background)

Why we need a second law of thermodynamics (review from 131 -- set up)

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics: A Probabilistic Law (review from 131 -- this one is essential)



Charge and the structure of matter
Coulomb's law 
Reading the content in Coulomb's law Electric potential energy



Motivating simple electric models

Electric fields in matter

Electric currents


Oscillations and Waves


Harmonic Oscillation

 Waves in 1D


Three models of light


Visual implications

Basic principles of the ray model

Electromagnetic radiation and Maxwell's rainbow

Huygens' principle and the wave model 

Basic principles of the photon model


The wave model of matter



Some topics intended for this class did not have webpages prepared and were read out of sections of an existing text. We expect to create webpages for these topics for the comping year.

  • Interference of Waves
  • Reflections at a Boundary and Standing Waves
  • Sound waves (background -- brief, just review, don't write)
    • The speed of sound
    • Sources of musical sound
  • Diffraction by a Circular Aperture (Resolvability)
  • Diffraction Gratings



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