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

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)

How can you push DNA through Jello? (What is biophysics? #1)

An introduction to the series: It’s easy to write that biophysics is the intersection of biology and physics, but this is a minimal and cryptic description. We could elaborate, and describe biophysics as the study of how living things use physical forces to shape themselves, how we can harness physical processes for technological ends, and … Continue reading How can you push DNA through Jello? (What is biophysics? #1)

Living Gels

About a recent paper from my lab: B. H. Schlomann and R. Parthasarathy, “Gut bacterial aggregates as living gels,” eLife, 10: e71105 (2021). DOI: 10.7554/eLife.71105. What do gut bacterial colonies look like? My group has been exploring this question for years, and ever since our first forays peering inside larval zebrafish it has been evident … Continue reading Living Gels

“So Simple A Beginning,” A Popular Science Book about Biophysics

There’s almost nothing new in this post, but descriptions of my upcoming (early 2022) general-audience book on biophysics are scattered across multiple blog posts, in some cases with outdated information like old versions of the title. Since it’s useful to have one definitive post to point to, here it is. So Simple a Beginning: How … Continue reading “So Simple A Beginning,” A Popular Science Book about Biophysics

Tossing Starfish from the Tidepools — Gut Microbiome Edition

About a paper from my lab [1] on competition and cooperation among gut microbes. Is the whole more than the sum of its parts? This question arises throughout the sciences, as one wonders whether understanding the constituents of some system suffices to understand the system as a whole. Sometimes the answer is “yes.” Electromagnetic fields, … Continue reading Tossing Starfish from the Tidepools — Gut Microbiome Edition