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?

Why is your heart on your left side? (Or is it?) — What is biophysics? #4

The fourth in a series of biophysical questions (one, two, three). If you put your hand on your chest you’ll probably realize that your heart is a bit left-of-center. Or perhaps not: about one in 10,000 people have their heart on the right. No one’s heart lies exactly on the body’s midline, nor does anyone’s … Continue reading Why is your heart on your left side? (Or is it?) — What is biophysics? #4

The Year in Books, 2021

Once again, my favorites of the books I read during the past year, plus some that weren’t favorites but worth noting nonetheless. (Previous posts: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.) The Covid-19 pandemic continues, though halfway through 2021 we were at least allowed to browse the public library in person again, which the kids … Continue reading The Year in Books, 2021

What’s the shape of a protein? (What is biophysics? #2)

The second in a series of biophysical questions. Proteins are molecules. As is the case for every molecule, the constituent atoms and inter-atomic bonds determine the overall shape. In general, a small or stiff molecule has a well-defined form. In contrast, long, chain-like molecules as found in plastics or the gel-formers of the last post … Continue reading What’s the shape of a protein? (What is biophysics? #2)