Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course of Physics has been designed to convey knowledge and understanding of basic physics principles and their application in practice. The topics are geared to concrete analysis and research problems.
The course will provide the necessary tools to address issues of increasing complexity preparatory to other major disciplines of the degree course, such as Chemistry, Biology,
Physiology, Biochemistry, etc.. , which are based on physical phenomenology.
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 diagnosis and therapy in medicine.
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 study, 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, including 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, detection and control.
Course contents summary
The course of Physics will deal with the most important aspects
of basic physics, from the definition of the main physical quantities and
measure systems up to the more complex content that are the basis of
diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy.
The course will cover 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
Physical quantitites and their measurement: Measurement of a physical
quantity - Dimensions and units – -Vector quantities.
- Fundamentals of dynamics: Principles of dynamics - Energy, work and
power - Weight force - Theorem of the kinetic energy - Conservative force
fields - Potential energy - Conservation of mechanical energy - Center of
mass and its properties - Conservation of the quantity of motion -
Moment of force - Overview of rigid body motion - Levers and the human
body – Balance - Elastic phenomena, Hooke’s law and elasticity modules -
Flexure and torsion - Elasticity of blood vessels and bones.
- Waves and acoustics: Wave motion, wave equation and characteristic
parameters - Interference and beats - Stationary waves - Resonance -
Diffraction and Huyghens principle - Sound and its characteristics -
Intensity, sensation, Weber-Fechner law - Doppler effect - Ultrasound and
its application in the biomedical field.
- Hydrostatics and hydrodynamics: Pressure, Pascal and Archimedes -
Atmospheric pressure and Torricelli’s barometer - Arterial pressure and
its measurement - Surface tension and Laplace’s formula - Capillarity and
Jurin’s law - Gaseous embolism - Pipe flow capacity - Ideal liquid and
Bernouilli’s theorem -Implications for blood flow - Real liquids and
viscosity - Laminar motion and Poiseuille’s theorem - Hydraulic resistance
- Stokes’ equation and sedimentation speed - Turbulent regime and
Reynolds number - Overview of cardiac work.
- Thermology and thermodynamics: Thermal dilation -Temperature and
heat - Laws of gas and absolute temperature - Equation of state of ideal
gases and approximation for real gases - Overview of the kinetic theory
of gases - Specific heats –Change of state and latent heat - Heat
propagation mechanisms -
Thermal machines and efficiency.
- Optics: Reflection and refraction - Total reflection and optical fiber -
Optical system, focus and dioptric power - Spherical diopter - Thin lenses,
mirrors and image construction - Compound microscope - Resolution
strength - The eye as a dioptric system - Principal ametropies of the eye
and their correction using lenses - Wave theory of light - Laser light.
- Electricity, magnetism and electrical current: Electrical charges and
Coulomb’s law - Electrical field - Work of the electrical field and
electrostatic potential -Overview of muscle fiber and
electrocardiogram - Gauss’s theorem and its applications - Current intensity - Overview of the
electronic structure of insulators, metallic conductors and semiconductors
- Ohm’s law - Series and parallel resistors – Electromotive
force - Thermal effect of current - Electrical conduction in liquids - Passing
of current in the human body -Thermoionic and photoelectric effects -
Magnetic field and its action on current and magnets - Electromagnetic induction -
Alternating voltage and current - Impedance -
- Radiation: Structure of the atom and nucleus - Quantum numbers,
electronic orbitals and transitions - Unstable isotopes and alpha, beta,
gamma radiation - Law of radioactive decay and half-life - Radiation
detection - Biomedical applications of radioisotopes - X-rays (production,
properties and absorption mechanisms in the matter) - Radiological
image - Overview of computerised axial tomography (CAT) and
radiofrequency (NMR) imaging techniques, PET and SPECT - Overview of radiation safety.
Bersani, Bettati, Biagi, Capozzi, Feroci, Lepore, Mita, Ortalli, Roberti,
Viglino, Vitturi: Fisica biomedica, Ed. Piccin Nuova Libraria (Padova).
Celasco: Lineamenti di Fisica Medica, Ed. E.C.I.G. (Genova).
Scannicchio: Fisica Biomedica, Ed. EdiSES (Napoli).
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 examination, 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.
The written examination will possibly 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 evaluation.