PHY100H5F – What’s Physics Got to Do with It?

Stephen Hawking once said: "We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special." The magic of Physics, with its ambitious goals of pushing the boundaries of knowledge, from finding the “God particle” to predicting the fate of the Universe, will be the focus of this course. The course is intended for those who are not trained in Physics and Mathematics but who nevertheless want to gain insight into this interesting and important field in a non-intimidating way. We will discover important concepts and theories though applications to everyday phenomena, including new energy sources, laser surgery, flat-screen TVs, wireless communications, GPS, etc. More advanced, but nevertheless fascinating and popular topics, will also be covered: time travel, relativity, ultracold atoms, quantum entanglement, black holes and the Higgs boson. No previous background in Physics is expected; high school algebra is recommended. [24L]

Exclusion: Any PHY or JCP course, taken previously or concurrently
Textbook: Physics: Concepts and Connections 5th ed., Art Hobson (2010)
Course syllabus


PHY332H5F – Molecular Biophysics

This course offers a physicist's perspective on the building blocks of the living world, such as nucleic acids, proteins and lipids. The course will cover topics such as symmetry, structural complexity of the biological macromolecules, molecular interactions in the cellular environment and the impact for the biological function. Basic concepts from mechanics and thermodynamics will be applied specifically to proteins and DNA in order to understand structural transitions, stabilizing interactions, reaction dynamics and equilibrium. A rigorous treatment of a wide range of biophysical techniques commonly used in life sciences, such as optical spectroscopy, radiation scattering and single-molecule methods, will be accompanied by recent examples from the molecular biophysics research.

Prerequisite: PHY242H5, JCP221H5/CHM221H5
Offered in alternate years, alternating with PHY333H5; offered in 2013-14.
Textbook: Principles of Physical Biochemistry, van Holde, Johnson & Ho, 2006
Course syllabus


PHY2702H1S - Molecular Biophysics

In this course we will investigate the physical properties of biomolecules with emphasis on principles of equilibrium and non-equilibrium thermodynamics and statistical mechanic that can be used to describe quantitatively biological structure and function. Through rigorously introduced new concepts and theories, and an extensive use of examples from literature, students will gain an understanding of the general importance and broad applicability of Physics Laws to life sciences. Specific topics will vary and may include: global states and transitions, random walks and microscopic diffusion theory, fundamental rate processes (exponential relaxation, activation energy, Kramers’ theory for barrier crossing, single-molecule kinetics), association-dissociation kinetics (the diffusion limit, ligand-binding to proteins, DNA and membrane receptors), multistate kinetics (separation of timescales, state counting, pathway counting, stretched kinetics), fluctuations in biology (Poisson distribution, noise and fluctuations in two-state systems, correlation functions and power spectra, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy).

Textbook: Molecular and Cellular Biophysics by Meyer Jackson
Course syllabus