How are tears like salad dressing? — What is biophysics? #9

In a charming letter published in 1774, Benjamin Franklin described an experiment in which he had poured “not more than a teaspoonful” of oil onto a pond, which he found sufficient to calm the water despite a choppy wind. What, you may be wondering, connects Franklin, ponds, tears, and salad dressing? In the last “What … Continue reading How are tears like salad dressing? — What is biophysics? #9

Books I Like about Energy, Climate, and Civilization

I regularly teach classes on energy, environment, climate, etc., for non-science major undergraduates at the University of Oregon. Inspired by some blog comments elsewhere, I thought I’d list list some books on this subject that I like. It’s especially worth noting books aimed at the general, non-specialist reader that are nonetheless quantitative. I firmly believe … Continue reading Books I Like about Energy, Climate, and Civilization

Can you see single photons? — What is biophysics? #6

The realization that electromagnetic waves are quantized — that light interacts in discrete packets — marked the beginning of quantum mechanics. Whether this fundamental attribute of the physical world sets the performance limits of human vision is a fascinating biophysical question. It’s so fascinating that Bill Bialek’s excellent graduate-level biophysics textbook begins with it, and … Continue reading Can you see single photons? — What is biophysics? #6

What does the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle have to do with microscopy?

A more technical post than most. If the symbol and the equation look familiar to you, you’ll be fine. If not, you may still like the post, but in case you’re about to depart I’ll put my customary link to my pop-science biophysics book’s description here, and also share this week’s news that it will … Continue reading What does the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle have to do with microscopy?