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: 
Cognomi A-L
Course type: 
Basic compulsory subjects
Standard lectures hours: 

The course will try to be self-consistent. However, students will benefit from having a preliminary high-school level preparation in selected mathematical topics which will endow them with the optimal “equipment” to afford this “voyage”. Familiarity with the concepts of proportionality and function, and with the usage of powers, roots, exponentials, logarithms, expression of numbers in powers of ten (i.e. scientific notation), and the concept of vector would be particularly desirable. Similarly, basic knowledge in planar geometry, particularly on applying the Pitagora theorem and handling basic trigonometric functions, may be helpful. The students should also be comfortable with the equivalence principles and their application to formula and equation inversions/manipulations. Finally, the ability of providing a rudimental definition of the physical quantities velocity, acceleration, force, energy, and volume, although not strictly required, would be welcomed.

Final Examination: 

The exam will be kept at the end of the course, during the teaching stop periods, and will focus on the whole program. It will consist in:
- A written test in which 5 problems will be administered, aimed at probing the technical and problem-solving abilities of the students. The student will be required to solve them in a maximum time of 2 hours, detailing the procedures and making reference to theoretical notions exploited for the solution. To each problem a maximum of six points will be assigned. The sum will give the mark in /30.
- An oral colloquium aimed mainly to ascertain the theoretical knowledge and specific language skills of the students.

N.B.: The students standing the oral colloquium must not consider the mark attained in the written exam as an inferior limit to their global score. In case the preparation of a student resulted inadequate after the oral colloquium, the student would be required to repeat also the written part of the exam. The students who have passed the written test can choose to stand the oral colloquium in the same session or in the following one.

During the course two partial tests will be also scheduled, one at the end of each semester, using the e-learning site moodle. These tests will be made during the lectures timetable, after suitable recognition of the candidates by examination of a valid identity document. They will focus only on the topics developed during the pertaining semester, and will be constituted by twelve multiple choice queries and four closed-answer questions. The limit time for the execution of each test is two hours. For each correct answer two points will be assigned. The sum of the acquired points will give the mark in /30. The students who stand the partial tests obtaining a mark of at least 18/30 in both of them will be allowed to stand the oral colloquium in any session of the solar year 2022, without affording the written exam.
During the course four experimental assignments (two for each semester) will be also proposed on a voluntary basis. The students who afford at least one of the assignments and prepare a scientific report on their work judged satisfactory by the teacher will be allowed to choose to stand the oral colloquium only on the description of the assignment, followed by queries by the teachers only on the topic. In this case, the students at the end of the colloquium may record the mark obtained in the written test (or the average of the marks obtained in the partial tests). The students who wish to stand the standard colloquium even though they have executed one or more approved assignments will be evaluated as if they had obtained a better mark in the written exam, namely one additional point per approved assignment.
Finally, during the year a number of tests will be administered to the students via the QUIZ application of the e-learning platform. The students answering correctly to at least 75% of the total queries proposed in the above-mentioned tests will be allowed to stand the oral examination on a topic at their own choice, organizing a presentation of roughly 15 minutes. If they desire, they may also prepare a slide show to help themselves during the presentation. In this case, the students will be allowed to register the mark of the written exam (or the average of the marks obtained in the partial tests). The students wishing to stand the standard oral examination although having afforded the tests on the moodle satisfactorily will be evaluated as if they had obtained in the written exam a mark better by two points than the actual one.
N.B.: the unanswered queries will be computed as incorrect answers.

Voto Finale

The course is intended to provide the students with a critical glance into the scientific method and the common traits joining the way of thinking of a physicist and a life-scientist, thanks to the awareness that most techniques, methods and instrumentations typical of a biology laboratory rely on physical phenomena and that a qualitative comprehension of such phenomena is useful to correctly apply these tools and interpret the pertaining results. An overview of the main physical concepts, particularly in the fields of dynamics, of fluids dynamics, of thermodynamics, of electrostatics and electrodynamics, will allow the student to understand the importance of the physical thinking in different fields of Biology, including metabolic processes, the functionality of the locomotive apparatus, the transmission of nervous signals, the structure of DNA.
The tone of the lectures will be as qualitative and speculative as possible, with no ambition of introducing rigorous demonstrations or reproducing complex calculations. Particular attention will be devoted to develop in the students problem solving abilities.

The course aims to the achievement of the following results, the knowledge and competences of the students will be ascertained and evaluated based on such results.
A) Transversal and systemic competences
- Comprehension of the concepts of function and vector and their applications in physical contexts
- Ability of interpreting and using the cartesian representation of functions and variables
- Ability of undertaking quantitative analyses and internalization of the principles of the measurement process
- Awareness that each measurement is subjected to errors, distinction between systematic and stochastic errors and analysis of possible error sources and causes of errors in a given experimental situation
- Internalization of the concepts of physical quantity (observable) and measurement unit and appreciation of their difference
- Distinction between scalar and vector quantities
- Understanding of the meaning and utility of “physical model”
B) Competences specific of the subject
- Classification of the states of matter, comprehension of the distinctive features of each state and of the mechanisms of transition between states, with particular attention to the energetics of the nanoscopic transitions underlying these transitions
- Internalization of the conceptual significance and definition of the following physical quantities: mass, volume, density, position and displacement, velocity, acceleration, force, work, energy (kinetic, potential, thermal, internal.), linear momentum, pressure, viscosity, temperature, heat, entropy, enthalpy, free energy, specific heat, latent heat, field (electric and gravitational) potential (electric and gravitational), electric charge, electric capacity, electric resistance and resistivity, electric current and current density, wavelength, frequency and speed of propagation of a wave, refractive index, absorbance, molar extinction coefficient.
- Internalization of the definition and conceptual significance of the following physical entities, phenomena, and concepts: material point, rigid body, ideal fluid, real fluid, perfect gas, consant of motion; interference, diffraction, reflection and refraction; equilibrium (static and dynamic), state variable, spectrum of a (electromagnetic) wave, particle-wave duality.
- Comprehension and utilization of the following mathematical relations between physical entities: motion equation for a material point, fundamental equation of the newtonian dynamics and its implications, conservation equations (energy, linear momentum, charge), universal gravitation law, conditions for the static equilibrium of an extended body, pressure isotropy, Bernoulli theorem, state equation of the perfect gas, first and second law of thermodynamics, Coulomb equation, Ohm’s law, Snell’s law, Eisenberg’s indetermination principle, Lambert-Beer’s law.

Topic 1. Selected elements of basic mathematics (2h)
Topic2. Measurements of physical quantities (2h)
Topic 3. Kinematics of material point – Bodies move (4 h front lecture + 2 h exercitations)
Topic 4. Dynamics – Bodies interact (6 h front lecture + 2 h exercitations)
Topic 5. Seing macroscopic bodies as made up of constitutive elements behaving as interacting material points: the states of matter. (12 h front lecture + 6 h exercitations)
Topic 6. Macroscopic bodies contain energy due to the motion of particles they are made of and of their mutual interactions: introduction to thermodynamics (8 h front lectures + 2 h exercitations)
Topic 7. The electric charge and the electrostatic interaction. The physical bases of interactions on the atomic and molecular scale (10 h front lectures + 6 h exercitations)
Topic 8: What is light and how does it interact with matter? (4 h front lectures + 2 h exercitations)
Topic 9. The “ultraviolet catastrophe” and the crisis of classical physics: seeking new models to describe Nature on the nanoscopic scale (8 h front lectures)

Note: Buying textbooks is not compulsory. The textbooks quoted below are only proposals, selected either for the rigorous and clear exposition of topics or for the affinity with the course planning and with the student profile (e.g.: the textbooks designed explicitly for general physics courses in biomedical faculties). Any textbook, even of the high school level, can be used by the student for the domestic study, to complement the didactic materials which will be set at the student disposal by the teacher on the e-learning website. Nevertheless, it is strongly advised to have a reference textbook, whatever it be.
The teacher will briefly review the textbooks quoted below during the first lecture. The students are kindly advised not to afford the purchase of a textbook in advance of this date.
- General physics textbooks
R. D Knight, B. Jones, S. Field: “Fondamenti di fisica: un approccio strategico” ed. Piccin – Nuova Libraria (2017). ISBN 882-99-2790-2
R. Wolfson: “Fisica” (Vol. 1) ed. Pearson Paravia – Bruno Mondadori S.p.A. (2008). ISBN 887-19-2429-0
D. Halliday, R. Resnick, J. Walker: “Fundamentals of physics – fourth edition” John Wiley and sons, Inc. (1993). ISBN 0-471-57578-X (or subsequent editions).
- Textbooks of physics for biomedical faculties
D. Scannicchio, E. Giroletti: “Elementi di fisica biomedica” ed. EdiSES (2015). ISBN 978-88-7959-887-3
F. Borsa, A. Lascialfari: “Principi di Fisica per indirizzo biomedico e farmaceutico”, seconda edizione, ed. EdiSES (2014). ISBN 978-88-7959-816-3.
- Textbooks with solved exercises and problems of general physics
J. R. Gordon, R. V. McGrew, R. A. Serway, J. W. Jewett, Jr. “Esercizi di fisica. Guida ragionata alla soluzione”ed. EdiSES (2010). ISBN 978-88-7959-556-8.
C. del Papa, M. P. Giordani, G. Giugliarelli “Problemi di fisica con soluzione: meccanica-termodinamica-gravitazione” ed. Casa Editrice Ambrosiana (2014). ISBN 978-88-08-18738-3.
- Textbooks with solved exercises of biomedical physics
R. Cerbino “Problemi di fisica biomedica” ed. EdiSES (2019). ISBN 978-88-33-19039-6
- Additional didactic materials
Once fixed the lectures timetable, the detailed program of the topics treated in each lecture will be promptly published on the e-learning website, each semester.
To favor the acquisition of prerequisites by all students, a short compendium of basic notions of mathematics and physics will be also uploaded on the e-learning platform before the beginning of the course.
The detailed solutions to the problems afforded during the exercitations will be uploaded on the e-learning platform readily after each exercitation lecture.
After the completion of each topic, a wide panel of exemplary exercises similar to those used in the partial tests on this topic will be also provided on the platform. The solutions to these exercises will be loaded after roughly one month, in order to allow the students to test their preparation autonomously and check ex-post the correctness of their answers.

The course is based on the alternation of theoretical lectures and practical exercitations. During theoretical lectures, the main teaching method will be frontal lectures. However, critical and active participation of the students will be fostered by recurring to brain storming activities and involving the students in problem solving activities individually as well as in small groups.
For frontal lectures, the teacher will use:
- Animated logical schemes
- Slide presentations
- Recorded lectures
- Films made by the teacher himself with experimental activities
During the course, on a voluntary basis, some tests to be completed at home will be administrated to the students using the e-learning platform (function QUIZ).
Four experimental assignments will be also proposed, to be executed individually or in small groups.
During exercitations selected problems excerpted from the advised textbooks (vide infra) will be solved.

The teacher can be contacted by e-mail or by phone at the number 031 238 6272
Once fixed the lectures timetable, the teacher will fix one hour to receive students weekly by appointment at the building of via Monte Generoso, in Varese. The teacher is anyway always available to receive students by appointment at his office in Como, via Valleggio 11, or in streaming on the Teams platform made available by the University.
During the course several question time appointments will be scheduled, each dedicated particularly to one of the main topics (see above).

Parent course