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, PHY255, JCP221H5
Textbook: Modern Biophysical Chemistry, 2nd ed., Peter Walla, 2014
Course syllabus


PHY347H5S – Optics

This course focuses mainly on providing a strong foundation of wave optics, while also presenting and an introduction to modern optics and the quantum nature of light. The topics in this course may vary but will include: electromagnetic waves and the propagation of light, basic coherence concepts and the interference of light, Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction, polarization, laser principles and the blackbody radiation. The students will have the opportunity to put to practice the optical principles learned during the lectures by performing laboratory experiments on various optical devices and systems.

Prerequisite: PHY241H5, PHY245H5, PHY325H5
Textbook: Optics, 5th ed., Eugene Hecht, 2016
Course syllabus


PHY2707HF - Cellular and Molecular Biophysics I

This course investigates the physical properties of biomolecules with emphasis on principles of equilibrium and non-equilibrium thermodynamics and statistical mechanics 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 Physical Laws to life sciences. Student participation includes reading and preparing papers assigned for discussion in each lecture. 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, Meyer Jackson, 2006
Course syllabus