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

Course Recap: Physics of Solar and Renewable Energies, Spring 2021

Before my memories grow even dimmer I should write down some thoughts about the class I taught Spring term: The Physics of Solar and Renewable Energies. Like its companion course, The Physics of Energy and the Environment, which I taught the quarter before and wrote about here, it’s a course for non-science-major undergraduates at the … Continue reading Course Recap: Physics of Solar and Renewable Energies, Spring 2021

“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upcoming (early 2022) general-audience book on biophysics are scattered across multiple blog posts, in some cases with outdated information like old versions of the title.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. (Update: It’s available! Publisher’s Link; … Continue reading “So Simple A Beginning,” A Popular Science Book about Biophysics

Course Recap: Physics of Energy and the Environment, Winter 2021

In the quarter that recently ended I taught The Physics of Energy and the Environment, a course for non-science-major undergraduates at the University of Oregon (UO) that I’ve taught before, though never before as an online, Zoom-based course. (For those reading this in the far-off future: It’s April 2021, and we’re a bit over a … Continue reading Course Recap: Physics of Energy and the Environment, Winter 2021