What is Biophysics?

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What Does Biophysics Mean

We explain what biophysics is, its objectives, object of study and branches. Also, its importance for understanding life.

Biophysics understands living things in physical terms.

What is biophysics?

Biophysics is the discipline that deals with the study of biology from the point of view of physics (hence its joint name). This double or dual nature makes it impossible to define whether it is a branch of physics close to biology, or a branch of biology close to physics.



In any case, it combines the theoretical spirit of physics with the possibility of obtaining verifiable experimental results, something common in biology.

Biophysics is, in this sense, one of the first scientific disciplines to combine diverse approaches to elementary sciences , which is a growing trend in the contemporary scientific world. The results obtained by this discipline are of interest to both biology and applied physics.

It is a young discipline, at least in its formal recognition, since its areas of study even predate the concept of science itself. The first proper biophysical study was in the 17th century , when the studies of the German Jesuit scientist Atanasio Kircher (1601-1680) on animal bioluminescence were published as part of his work " Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae ".

It can help you: Biochemistry

Object of study of biophysics

The object of study of biophysics can be defined as the physical field of life or the application of physics to living beings . To a large extent, he considers his object of study from the physical perspective of classical mechanics, that is, Newtonian mechanics.

It involves the exploration of common phenomena in the world of physics, such as electricity , light , magnetism , among others, but linked to the world of biology: bioelectricity, bioluminescence, biomagnetism, and so on.

Goals of biophysics

Biophysics is essential for the manufacture of prostheses.

Biophysics pursues a diverse set of objectives, such as:

  • Understand the human body and other living beings in terms of physical systems endowed with quantifiable variables such as internal energy, entropy , etc.
  • Translate into the language of physics (that is, describe in its terms) some particular phenomena of complex life , especially those that involve fundamental energies : electricity, magnetism, gravity , etc.
  • Apply all previous knowledge to the solution of specific problems , such as the manufacture of prostheses, the invention of treatments and new diagnostic tools , or of new materials inspired by life itself.
  • Put into practice a transdisciplinary approach to physics and biology , in order to transcend the limitations of a specific field using the tools and knowledge of another.

Branches of biophysics

The main areas of study of biophysics, each of which inaugurates a particular branch of interest, are the following:

  • Biomechanics. It is about the study of the processes of the human body, understanding them as the application of internal and external forces to it, which allows us to think about them in terms such as energy efficiency, anatomical mechanics, etc., which in turn is useful for manufacture prostheses.
  • Bioacoustics. As its name implies, the investigation of sound production in animals , including humans , is proposed . This ranges from the behavior of sound waves to the neurophysiological apparatus of the ear.
  • Cell motors. It is a discipline that understands the movements of living beings as a process of transforming energy ( usually chemistry ) into work, thus being able to imitate them (to create nanomachines, for example).
  • Protein dynamics. It is the study of the movements and folding of proteins and other molecular constructs, according to their structures, functions or compositions, applying the laws of physics.
  • Molecular communication. Essentially, it is about the exchange of information at the cellular level, both between cells of the same organism , and between unicellular organisms , using systemic principles that can well be understood from a physical point of view.

Importance of biophysics

Biophysics studies phenomena such as bioluminescence from another perspective.

What is most interesting about the biophysics perspective is that it rethinks or rethinks the boundaries between the world of matter ( inorganic ) and the world of life ( organic ) , since both are affected by the same fundamental forces of physics. In this way, it provides a more basic understanding of what life is and what distinguishes living things from the inanimate matter that surrounds them.

On the other hand, biophysics allows biological problems to be approached from a different perspective , which takes advantage of the elements of physics, such as the application of electromagnetic rays in the examination of cells, or nuclear magnetic resonances to study the tissues of the organisms without damaging them or break them .

Continue with: Biotechnology

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