Learning outcomes of the course unit
The module of Medical Physics is part of the Integrated Course
of Biosciences. The module has been designed to convey knowledge and understanding of basic physics principles, providing an introductory basis for other disciplines including Chemistry and Biochemistry, Biology, Physiology, etc., that rely on the physical phenomenology on make frequent use of it. The course will also provide the conceptual basis for understanding a number of major technologies
that are used with increasing frequency. 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 several
fields. 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.
Course contents summary
The first part of the module of Medical Physics will deal with the
definition of physical quantities and measure systems and units. The module will then tackle the fundamental principles of kinematics, dynamics, thermology and thermodynamics. Applications and consequences on human body physiology and medicine will be stressed.
In particular, deeper insights will be provided into biomechanics, blood circulation, and body temperature control.
Physical quantitites and their measurement: Measurement of a physical
quantity - Dimensions and units – Errors - Mean value - Standard
deviation and sampling approximation -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
Huygens principle - Sound and its characteristics - Intensity, sensation,
Weber-Fechner law - Doppler effect - Ultrasound and its application in the
biomedical field. Hydrostatics and hydrodynamics: Pressure - Laws of
Stevin, 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 -First and second principle of thermodynamics -
Thermal machines and efficiency - Entropy and disorder.
1) Lectures notes.
2) Bersani, Bettati, Biagi, Capozzi, Feroci, Lepore, Mita, Ortalli, Roberti,
Viglino, Vitturi: Fisica biomedica, Ed. Piccin Nuova Libraria (Padova).
3) Scannicchio: Fisica Biomedica, Ed. EdiSES (Napoli).
4) Celasco: Lineamenti di Fisica Medica, Ed. E.C.I.G. (Genova).
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 demonstration 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.