cod. 1006168

Academic year 2014/15
1° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Fisica applicata (a beni culturali, ambientali, biologia e medicina) (FIS/07)
Scienze propedeutiche
Type of training activity
21 hours
of face-to-face activities
3 credits
course unit

Integrated course unit module: PROPAEDEUTIC SCIENCES

Learning objectives

The course of Applied Physics has been designed to convey knowledge and understanding of basic physics principles, providing an introductory basis for other major degree fields including Chemistry, Biology, Physiology, Biochemistry, 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 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.


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Course unit content

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.

Full programme

Physical quantities and their measurement. Units. Dimensional analysis. Errors. Mean value. Standard deviation and sampling approximation. Vector algebra.
Fundamentals of dynamics: Principles of dynamics. Energy, work and power. Weight force. Kinetic energy. Conservative force fields. Potential energy. Conservation of mechanical energy. Center of mass and its properties. Conservation of momentum. Overview of problems of impact. Torque and angular momentum. Overview of rigid body motion. Levers and the human body. Conservation of angular momentum. Elastic phenomena, Hooke’s law and elasticity modules. Elasticity of blood vessels and bone.

Hydrostatics and hydrodynamics: Hydrostatic pressure. Pascal's principle. Atmospheric pressure and Torricelli’s barometer. Surface tension and Laplace’s equation. Capillarity and Jurin’s law. Gaseous embolism. Pipeflow capacity. Ideal liquid and Bernouilli’s theorem. Implications for blood flow. Real liquids and viscosity. Laminar motion and Poiseuille’s theorem. Hydraulic resistance. Implications for hypertensive individuals or those under stress. Stokes’ equation and sedimentation. Turbulent flow and Reynolds number. Non-Newtonian fluids. Overview of cardiac work.

Thermology and thermodynamics: Temperature and heat. Laws of gases and absolute temperature. Equation of the status of perfect gases and approximation for real gases. Overview of the kinetic theory of gases. Specific heat. Phase transitions and latent heat. Heat propagation mechanisms. First and second principle of thermodynamics. Thermal engines and output. Entropy and disorder.

Waves and acoustics: Wave processes, wave equation and characteristic parameters. Interference and beats. Stationary waves. Resonance. Diffraction and Huyghens principle. Sound and its special characteristics. Doppler effect. Ultrasound and its application in the biomedical field.

Electricity, magnetism and electrical current: Electric charges and Coulomb’s law. Electric field. Electrostatic potential. Dipolar field. Overview of muscle fibre and electrocardiagram. Gauss’s law and its applications. Faraday's cage. Capacitors. Current intensity. Overview of the electronic structure of insulators, metallic conductors and semi-conductors. Ohm’s laws. Series and parallel resistors. Electric drive power. Thermal effect of current. Electrical conduction in liquids. Thermoionic and photoelectric effect. Magnetic field and its action on current and magnets. Biot-Savart Law. Ampere’s theorem of circulation. Solenoid. Electromagnetic induction. Self-induction. Voltage and alternating current. Impedance. Electromagnetic waves.

Radiation: Structure of the atom and nucleus. 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 mechanisms of absorption into matter) Overview of TC, NMR, PET. Overview of radiation safety.


D.C.Giancoli - Fisica - Casa Editrice Ambrosiana

A. Giambattista - B. McCarthy Richardson- R. Richardson. Fisica generale - Principi e applicazioni - McGraw Hill

Teaching methods

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

Other information

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