Biophysics Searching for Principles (Ebook, PDF)


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Interactions between the fields of physics and biology reach back over a century, and some of the most significant developments in biology–from the discovery of DNA’s structure to imaging of the human brain–have involved collaboration across this disciplinary boundary. For a new generation of physicists, the phenomena of life pose exciting challenges to physics itself, and biophysics has emerged as an important subfield of this discipline. Here, William Bialek provides the first graduate-level introduction to biophysics aimed at physics students. Bialek begins by exploring how photon counting in vision offers important lessons about the opportunities for quantitative, physics-style experiments on diverse biological phenomena. He draws from these lessons three general physical principles–the importance of noise, the need to understand the extraordinary performance of living systems without appealing to finely tuned parameters, and the critical role of the representation and flow of information in the business of life.

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