Learning outcomes of the course unit
The module of Physics is part of the Integrated Course of Physiopathologic Optics and has been designed to convey knowledge and understanding of basic physics principles, providing an introductory basis for the other disciplines of the course (Biophysics and Optics).
The course will also provide the conceptual basis for understanding a number of major technologies that with increasing frequency are used in medicine, such as: centrifuges, endoscopes, microscopes, transducers for ultrasound equipment, laser systems, radiology equipment and NMR, radiation detectors, etc. In this sense, the module also aims to develop the students' attitude towards independent study and continuing education on the application of physical techniques to their professional expertise.
As its final, but perhaps most important, goal, the course has been designed to stimulate students to become more familiar with certain common concepts, that are not always sufficiently explained in previous studies, such as: mechanical action between bodies in contact, exertion and energy in action, dynamic aspects resulting from elastic force and impact, friction and thermal and thermodynamic aspects, static and dynamic properties of gaseous and liquid fluids, light and its manifestations, also in relation to the structure of the eye and its physical defects, fundamentals of electrical, magnetic and nuclear phenomena, the laws that govern potential and current, electromagnetic and nuclear radiation, perturbations induced in means passed through and aspects of detection and control.
Course contents summary
The first part of the module of Physics will deal with
the definition of physical quantities and measure systems and units.
The module will then tackle the fundamental principles of mechanics,
fluid dynamics, electromagnetism, thermology, waves and optics.
Applications and consequences on human body physiology and medicine
will be stressed. In particular, deeper insights will be provided into
biomechanics, blood circulation, the use of radiations in diagnosis and
therapy, the nature of light and its propagation, with regard to vision and its defects.
Fundamental Laws of Dynamics
Vectors and scalars. Units, dimensions. Velocity and acceleration. Newton's laws.
Newton's law of gravitation. Acceleration of gravity. Difference between mass and
weight. Work, power and energy. Types of energy: thermal, chemical, potential,
kinetic, nuclear. Energy conservation law. Friction. Static and dynamic friction.
Force and moment of a force. Centre of gravity, barycentre. Equilibrium state of a
rigid body. Levers and applications to the human body. Structure of solids. Elastic
properties of a body, Young's modulus. Elastic behaviour of blood vessels and
Fluids and Fluid Dynamics
Pressure, Stevino’s law. Pascal’s law. Archimede's principle. Torricelli barometer.
Flow rate. Characteristics of an ideal fluid. Bernoulli's theorem. Applications of
Bernoulli's theorem to blood circulation. Real fluids. Laminar flow. Turbulent flow.
Reynolds number. Blood pressure measurement. Surface tension and capillarity.
Waves, Optics, Electrostatics, Electricity, Magnetism and Radiations.
Vibrations: harmonic, damped, forced motions, and resonance. Characteristics of
waves, the wave equation, superposition and interference of waves, stationary
waves. Sound waves, the ear and hearing, interference of sound, beats.
Ultrasound. Doppler effect. The Doppler echo in diagnostics: an application of the
Electricity and Magnetism:
Electric charge and Coulomb's law - Dielectric constant - The electric field - Electric
work and electrostatic potential - Volt - Dipolar field and potential - The electric
double layer - Eletctrocardiogram (dipolar aspects) - Gauss' theorem e its basic
applications - Faraday shield - Electrostatic induction and dielectric polarization -
Capacitance and capacitors - Capacitors combined in series and parallel - Current
intensity and current density - Ohm's law and resistance - Resistors combined in
series e parallel - Electromotive force - Kirchhoff's laws - Thermic effect of a current
- Electric conduction in liquids - Passage of the current in the human body -
Electronic structure of insulators, conductors and semiconductors (short account) -
Magnetic field and forces on currents and magnets - Biot/Savart law - Magnetic
permeability - Circulation of B and Ampère's theorem - Solenoid - Electromagnetic
induction and Faraday's and Lenz's laws - The autoinduction coefficient L -
Alternate tension and current - Impedance of a circuit anddissipated AC power -
Electromagnetic waves - Photoelectric effect and photons - Thermoionic emission
Reflection and refraction laws and dispersion of the light - Total reflection and
optical fiber - The endoscope (short account ) - Elements of spectral analysis -
Optical systems, focal points, and dioptric power - Thin lenses and mirrors, and
graphic construction of the images - Compound microscope - Resolution limit -
Optical aberrations - The eye as a dioptric system - Common dioptric defects of the
eye and correction by thin lenses - Wave properties of the light - Light diffraction
and Huyghens' principle - Diffraction grating - Polarization of the light and
polarimetry - Laser light: production, properties and applications in Medicine - The
electronic microscope (short account)
Atom, Nucleus, and Radiations:
Atomic structure - Bohr and Bohr/Sommerfeld models of the atom - Emission and
absorption of photons, andluminescence - X-rays: production and properties -
Mechanisms of X-ray absorption in the matter - Radiological imaging - Nucleus
structure and isotopes - Natural radioactivity: alpha, beta, and gamma radiation and
absorption properties - Radioactive decay and mean life.
Bersani, Bettati, Biagi, Capozzi, Feroci, Lepore, Mita, Ortalli, Roberti, Viglino, Vitturi:
Elementi di Fisica, Ed. Piccin Nuova Libraria (Padova).
Scannicchio: Fisica Biomedica, Ed. EdiSES (Napoli).
Giambattista, McCarthy Richardson, Richardson: Fisica Generale, Ed. McGraw-Hill (Milano).
Halliday et al: Elementi di Fisica, Ed. Ambrosiana (Milano).
During classroom lectures, the topics contained in the program of the
module will be illustrated and commented. Emphasis will be posed on the
applications to biology and medicine of basic physics principles, with
examples of how such principles can lead to quantitative predictions on
physiological and pathological phenomena.
In selected cases, the demontration of basic physics principles will be
illustrated, with the aim to introduce the students to the practice of
logical thinking and experimental approach.
Assessment methods and criteria
The achievement of the objectives of the module will be assessed
through a written exam, mainly consisting in open questions on the
topics of the course. This will allow to ascertain the knowledge and the
understanding of both the theoretical bases and their consequences in
biology and medicine.
The written exam will include the resolution of problems, to assess the
achievement of the ability to apply the acquired knowledge to a
simulated biological or medical situation.
All parts of the written exam will be equally weighted in the final