Talk:Biophysics

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Older comments[edit]

An amateur, I'm wondering why there's no mention here of D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson. --Wetman 12:34, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)


Also Erwin Schrödinger and What is Life?. Much of the history could be better covered. WebDrake 18:44, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

--- The categories are too broad. Phlebas 20:16, 17 Mar 2005 (UTC)


Why is there no mention of Medical Imaging (CT, MRI, PET) and their effect on biophysics in general? I am more than willing to write this section if everyone can agree on this including this point of interest. Furthermore, I consider Felix Bloch a biophysicist more than a physicist because of his work specifically in MRI and NMR. Cocoapunk 4:41, 21 October 2006 (UTC)

There is a separate article on Medical Imaging, which seems to need improvement, though it's not a barren as this one. DGG 04:34, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

reynolds number[edit]

will someone please explain the connection between Reynolds number and molecular scale? And between traditional biology and statistical ensemble experimentation in biology? To me, as a molecular biologist ,it would seem you mean cell biology and molecular biology, but the examples are very unclear.

where is the part on reynolds number in the article? cant find anything on that there now. I am also a bit baffled at the statement of ensembles. Benkeboy (talk) 15:02, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

It is probably not a very good idea to include cryptic sentences like those in a general page for a subject. The definition in the first section is clear, but there's a rather large jump to this. Are you trying to say that biophysics studies macromolecules at the scale that statistical mechanics is relevant? If you mean this, then say it, properly, at length, in a section.

Except for certain types of indexing, biophysics rarely deals with "individual molecules" in the literal sense.

but it does not mean that "individual molecules" can be studied as part of biophysics. Benkeboy (talk) 15:02, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
Work with individual molecules is very much a part of biophysics research. Single-molecule imaging and manipulation are among the most active topics in biophysics. --chodges (talk) 06:02, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Famous biophysicists[edit]

Also, what is the distinction between a famous biophysicist and a merely notable one?

DGG
should the section on famous biophysicists be omitted althogether? How would you measure the fame of a biophysicist? Benkeboy (talk) 15:02, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
I would support this, and rather stick to the topics and methods, many of which have their own articles where the relevant people are mentioned. -- Mietchen (talk) 12:34, 6 February 2008 (UTC)
I agree that this list may be out of place here. If plain deletion may be controversial, probably the list can be moved to an independent article Famous biophysicists. Anyhow an objective criteria must be defined to include a name in such list. I propose that this criteria may be based on well recognised prizes and minimum publication influence. Eventually other softer criteria may be used for notable researchers, like being appointed head of department on a well ranked university, a smaller h-index, nominations to prices or other public recognition.Godot (talk) 18:34, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Introductory phrase[edit]

I think the current phrase

Biophysics (also biological physics) is an interdisciplinary science that applies the theories and methods of the physical sciences to questions of biology.

is too rough a description, as it suggests one-way traffic, whereas the development of theories and methods (and thus the enrichment of the methodological arsenal) to investigate biological phenomena is an important part of the story.

My suggestion was

Biophysics (also biological physics) is an interdisciplinary science in which theories and methods of the physical sciences are used to 
investigate biological systems at all levels of organisation, or being developed to this end.

which is indeed less digestible, as argued by Chodges who reverted it. To keep things simple, I would agree on dropping the levels of organisation (but still think they should appear somewhere else in the article).

So what about

Biophysics (also biological physics) is an interdisciplinary science that employs and develops theories and methods of the physical sciences for
the investigation of biological systems.

? -- Mietchen (talk) 12:34, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

Just so I understand, your complaint is that you say the prior introductory sentence implies that biophysics doesn't develop its own theories and methods? Are you equally worried with Physical chemistry, whose introductory sentence is currently:
"Physical chemistry is the application of physics to macroscopic, microscopic, atomic, subatomic, and particulate phenomena in chemical systems [...]"
I think this change is mostly silly and results in a less digestible first sentence. I still like the original better. --chodges (talk) 05:28, 18 February 2008 (UTC)
I am not talking about the sentence implying that biophysics "doesn't develop its own theories and methods". What I would like to emphasize, though, is that the application of existing physics to biological problems often leads to further development of the "parenting" physical concepts and methods. This feedback aspect can easily get lost in wordings like "applies", even though the more general phrasing in Physical chemistry somewhat mediates the effect. For ease of digestion, we could perhaps drop the "interdisciplinary science", as this is probably true for most fields of research anyway. So what about "Biophysics (also biological physics) employs and develops theories and methods of the physical sciences for the investigation of biological systems"? -- Mietchen (talk) 12:58, 19 March 2008 (UTC)


I agree more with Mietchen's sentence, "Biophysics (also biological physics) employs and develops theories and methods of the physical sciences for the investigation of biological systems", rather than it stands, but in general, I am not that happy with biophysics being defined as physical sciences applying to biological systems. Traditionally, I would consider biophysics arising from considering biological problems through the study of forces, and most of physics is exploring forces. This is a particularly molecular motor definition, ie, single molecule measurement, and might not immediately define single molecule fluorescence work, or cell biophysics or things like that, but I think applying the physical sciences is too broad. It includes, maths, engineering, physics, etc, but we are talking ultimately about bioPHYSICS.
The American Biophysical Society defines biophysics as: "Biophysics is that branch of knowledge that applies the principles of physics and chemistry and the methods of mathematical analysis and computer modeling to understand how biological systems work.". Can we not use that, and source it as an external link? That is two good things? I would go with "Biophysics is the application of the principles of physics to understand biological systems".
Incidentally, I think the numbers of famous and notable physicists need to be severely culled, they take up too much of the article. Phatmattbaker (talk) 19:10, 30 September 2009 (UTC)
and, the source of that intro above, comes from the "careers in biophysics" brochure, which states: "Biophysicists use the methods of

mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology to study how living organisms work", which I think is terrible, so I'm arguing rewriting a bad sentence, into a complicated bad sentence, isn't the way forward. Admittedly the problem is that biophysics isn't well defined, but I think we should go with "...uses the principles of physics...". I'll change it tomorrow if no-one discusses further and you can revert it if you like. Phatmattbaker (talk) 19:15, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

Given examples are biased?[edit]

In one of the introductory paragraphs, the following sentence appears:

"Studies included under the umbrella of biophysics span all levels of biological organisation and range from molecular modeling and sequence analysis to neural networks to systems ecology."

From my perspective, these are all computational or theoretical topics. I am inclined to either remove this list, or repopulate it with some experimental methods as well. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.32.182.6 (talk) 18:22, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Topics in biophysics[edit]

The list of "Topics in biophysics" doesn't look nice. Can these topics be structured in some kink of hierarchy , sub-group or categories? If no conceptual order, at least we can gain some aesthetic benefit placing them in a three column table. Godot (talk) 18:10, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. The topics need more structure, are frequently too general, and not necessarily reflective of biophysics. If there is no objection, I would recommend deleting the genetics, and population modelling (not a common topic in biophysics). I would suggest the main headings "Molecular Biophysics", "Cellular Biophysics", "Organismal Biophysics", and "Techniques"--Biophysik. This link [1] is a good place to start (talk) 07:49, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

Source for this page[edit]

A very good source for the descreiption of biophysics can be found at the biophysical society website: http://www.biophysics.org/tabid/517/Default.aspx It also has a list of biophysical topics: http://www.biophysics.org/AboutUs/Committees/Education/EducationalResources/tabid/471/Default.aspx --Biophysik (talk) 00:32, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Nasif Nahle[edit]

I'm rather surprised to find Nasif Nahle's page http://biocab.org/Biophysics.html in the External Links section. Nasif's page is riddled with errors of dimensional analysis and basic algebra.

For example he presents the following formula: q = M – W – E – Q = W/m^2. He then states that "...M is the metabolic rate of human body in Mets (58.2 W/m^2 = 1 Met), W is the mechanical work produced by the human body, E is the rate of total evaporative loss due to evaporation of sweat, and Q is the total rate of energy loss from the skin..." It is mathematically impossible to add or subtract quantities with different units, and yet M is watts per square meter while W (mechanical work) has units of joules, and Q (rate of energy loss) is in watts. It's harder to guess what he means by E, but presumably it is in watts. The equation is nonsense.

Also we find a formula that he initially presents as q = e σ A [(ΔT)^4], but then later uses in the form q = 0.7 (A) (σ) (Tsur^4 - Thb^4). (ΔT)^4 can of course be written as (Tsur - Thb)^4 as ΔT is simply the difference between two temperatures. (Tsur^4 - Thb^4) is not equal to (Tsur - Thb)^4. The simplest way to demonstrate this is to plug in some numbers, like (admittedly non-biological values) of Tsur = 2 K and Thb = 1 K. (Tsur - Thb)^4 = (2 K - 1 K)^4 = (1 K)^4 = 1 K^4 whereas (Tsur^4 - Thb^4) = ((2 K)^4 - (1 K)^4) = (16 K^4 - 1 K^4) = 15 K^4. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Barak Thunder (talkcontribs) 03:56, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Quantum Biophysics[edit]

Can we get an article created for Quantum Biophysics, I do it, but have no idea how to begin the article? Space Commander Plasma (talk) 06:58, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

You'll have to begin with decent sources, as there is a lot of discomfort in both physics and biology when people start trying to insert QM where it's not immediately expected, and there are a very few number of processes exclusive to biology (such as to be 'biophysics' rather than simply physics or chemistry) that I am aware of that require some QM to fully understand. Basically, the article must be justified as something 'separable' from biophysics and/or biochemistry. SamuelRiv (talk) 00:35, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Main picture[edit]

The main picture in this article seems like a particularlily odd choice. E = MC^2 might be an appropriate for an article on relativity, but biophysics? There are many equations (not to mention countless pictures) that would make more sense here.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by 65.185.67.95 (talk) 02:02, 16 May 2011 (UTC) 
That is not the main picture of the article but of the physics navbox. I agree, though, that it would be good to add a picture. RockMagnetist (talk) 05:39, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
Removed the "general physics" infobox and substituted an image of the photosynthetic reaction center, which suggests structural biology, membrane, and spectroscopic parts of biophysics and was awarded a Nobel Prize for solution of the structure. Dcrjsr (talk) 05:55, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
Beautiful image! It could use a little more detail in the caption and a citation, though. RockMagnetist (talk) 06:07, 22 February 2012 (UTC)