Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Section: Foundational Concept 4

Complex living organisms transport materials, sense their environment, process signals, and respond to changes using processes that can be understood in terms of physical principles.

The processes that take place within organisms follow the laws of physics. They can be quantified with equations that model the behavior at a fundamental level. For example, the principles of electromagnetic radiation, and its interactions with matter, can be exploited to generate structural information about molecules or to generate images of the human body. So, too, can atomic structure be used to predict the physical and chemical properties of atoms, including the amount of electromagnetic energy required to cause ionization.

With these building blocks, medical students will be able to utilize core principles of physics to learn about the physiological functions of the respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological systems in health and disease.

Content Category 4A: Translational motion, forces, work, energy, and equilibrium in living systems

Category 4A focuses on motion and its causes, and various forms of energy and their interconversions.

Content Category 4B: Importance of fluids for the circulation of blood, gas movement, and gas exchange

Category 4B focuses on the behavior of fluids, which is relevant to the functioning of the pulmonary and circulatory systems.

Content Category 4C: Electrochemistry and electrical circuits and their elements

Category 4C emphasizes the nature of electrical currents and voltages; how energy can be converted into electrical forms that can be used to perform chemical transformations or work; and how...

Content Category 4D: How light and sound interact with matter

Category 4D focuses on the properties of light and sound; how the interactions of light and sound with matter can be used by an organism to sense its environment; and how these interactions can also...

Content Category 4E: Atoms, nuclear decay, electronic structure, and atomic chemical behavior

Category 4E focuses on sub-atomic particles, the atomic nucleus, nuclear radiation, the structure of the atom, and how the configuration of any particular atom can be used to predict its physical and...