Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Basic compulsory subjects
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (48 hours), Exercise (36 hours)

Previous knowledge of basic mathematical concepts is required (elementary algebra, trigonometry, basic properties of linear and parabolic functions, exponential and logarithmic functions; vector algebraic manipulation using cartesian and polar coordinates), as well as elementary notions of Descriptive Statistics. These notions will be quickly recapitulated at the beginning of the Course.
No previous Physics knowledge is required.

Final Examination: 

The final exam is articulated in a written exam, followed by an oral exam. Marks are given on a 0-30 scale (30: maximum). Threshold for admission to the oral exam: 16/30 in the written part.
The exam checks the acquisition of basic knowledge provided during the Course and the ability to exploit this knowledge for the resolution of problems. The written part is made up of 8 closed and 1 open question, including theory and simple exercises on the entire Course program. The oral exam is a discussion of the written part.

Several proofs of the final examination are performed during the Course; the performance in the proofs has no influence on the evaluation in the final exam.

Voto Finale

Introduction and training goals

The goal of the Course is to provide students with essential knowledge of the basic principles of Classical Physics (Mechanics, Fluid Dynamics, Thermodynamics, Electricity, Optics).
In parallel, students should learn to use this knowledge for further study of biological and biomedical subjects and for measurement of variables related to these subjects.
The Course is aimed at stimulating the ability to undertake the analysis of interesting phenomena by choosing the appropriate variables for their description and proposing a simple mathematical model of their relationships. Moreover, it is aimed at developing communication skills, and fostering the ability to justify the choice of a given model.

These goals are pursued through resolution of problems and exercises; the achievement of the goals id verified through the final exam.

Knowledge and understanding (Knowledge and know)

The student should acquire basic knowledge of the main subjects of Classical Physics, and acquire the ability to analyse biological and biomedical phenomena by identifying the relevant control variables and understanding the constraints which limit their dynamics according to the laws of Classical Physics. He/she should acquire communication skills allowing to provide a justification of the chosen description.

The Course provides an elementary introduction to the main concepts of Classical Physics. It is organized in the following sections:

Recapitulation of basic mathematical concepts: elementary functions (trigonometric functions, logarithms, exponentials, polynomials) with examplar applications in Physics and Biology. Vectors. Scientific notation. Errors, precision and significant figures, accuracy.

Physical quantities and measurements, standards and units. Dimensional analysis.

Mechanics of a point particle. Kinematics: trajectory, position, displacement, velocity, acceleration (average and instantaneous). Uniform rectilinear motion, uniformly accelerated motion (in 1 and 2D), circular motion, periodic motion (monodimensional). Forces, momentum, Newton laws. Inertial frame of reference. Gravitational and electrostatic forces, elastic forces, friction. Friction in fluids, drag and limit velocity. Sedimentation, centrifugation.
Work, energy, kinetic energy theorem. Power, efficiency. Conservative and dissipative forces. Potential energy. Mechanical energy, conservation of energy. The relationship between force and potential energy, potential energy curves. Conservation of momentum. Torque, equilibrium of a rigid body.

Fluid dynamics. Pressure, density. Stevin’s law and hydrostatic pressure. Pascal’s law. Archimedes’ principle and buoyancy. Fluid flow: velocity, flow lines, steady flow, laminar and turbulent flow. Mass/volume flow rate, continuity equation. Bernoulli’s equation and applications. Viscous fluids, Poiseuille’s law. Application to the circulatory system. Sphygmomanometer.

Thermodynamics. Macroscopic states and thermodynamic variables. Temperature, zeroth principle, thermometers. Heat, heat capacity, specific heat capacity; heat transfer. Latent heat and phase transitions. Thermal expansion. Conduction, radiation.
Ideal gases, gas laws and equation of state. Hints of kinetic-molecular theory of an ideal gas. Internal energy. Work. First law of thermodynamics. State functions. Enthalpy. Thermodynamic processes in an ideal gas.
Second law of thermodynamics. Heat engines, Carnot cycle. Entropy. Irreversibility. Information and disorder. Hints of thermodynamic potentials. Osmosis, osmotic pressure.

Electricity. Charge, Coulomb’s law. Electric field and electrical forces. Electric potential energy and electric potential. Field and potential of a point charged particle, an electric dipole, a charged plane, two parallel charged planes. Cell membranes. Motion of a charged particle and of a dipole in a uniform electric field. Conductors and dielectrics. Polarization. Capacitors, parallel-plate capacitor. Current, resistance and Ohm’s law. Electromotive force and electrical circuits. Resistors and capacitors in series or parallel. Kirchhoff’s laws. RC circuits, low-pass filters. Electrical model of cell membranes. Electromagnetic induction, electromagnetic field (hints).

Waves and Optics. Waves; periodic waves, sinusoidal waves and Fourier analysis. Sound waves, electromagnetic waves. Spectra, electromagnetic spectrum. Light. Reflection and refraction. Images, lenses, microscopes. Dispersion. Interference, diffraction. Diffraction limit.

Summary course slides are made available to students on-line on the University e-learning site. The solutions to problems and exercises presented during practical sessions are available on-line as well.

Reference textbook:
R. Wolfson – FISICA – Paravia, 2008
D. Scannicchio - FISICA biomedica (2a ediz.) 2010, EdiSES

The reference textbook and several similar textbooks are available in the Life Science and Medicine Library (Biblioteca di Medicina e Scienze) in Varese. Students are required to use at least one Physics textbook

The Course includes frontal lessons (48 hrs) alternated to exercises (36 hrs). Exercises and problems are solved by applying the theory explained in the frontal lessons, and the best strategy to obtain a solution is discussed. Students are required to bring their own scientific hand calculator during the practical lessons.