The physics of biology

B R Sitaram

In recent years, there have been extensive discussions in all circles about the artificial divisions made between various branches of study. It has been realized that major breakthroughs have been made in science by interdisciplinary work. Such work is possible only when science is taught and understood as a single body of knowledge, broken into separate sciences only for convenience. Is it possible to teach science in an integrated manner? For example, is it possible to integrate the teaching of physics and biology in school?

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A simplistic answer to the question would be, yes, this should be possible, as all living organisms are physical objects and hence are subject to the laws of physics. An equally simplistic answer would be that after all, we use instruments of various types in biology and these instruments work on the principles of physics. For example, a sphygmomanometer, used to measure blood pressure, depends on the laws of pressure. However, such examples are too simplistic to be meaningful. Are there more meaningful examples of the intimate interaction between the laws of physics and those of biology?

Dr B R Sitaram was earlier a scientist at the Physical Research Laboratory and then the Director of the Vikram A. Sarabhai Community Science Centre, both at Ahmedabad. Currently, he is the Director of Zeal Educational Services Pvt Ltd. Ahmedabad. He can be reached at [email protected].

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