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Goldstein Lab


Biological Physics and Complex Fluids (Part III, Michaelmas 2016)

Prof Raymond E. Goldstein FRS and Dr Eric Lauga

This course will provide an overview of the physical and mathematical description of both living and synthetic small-scale complex systems. The range of subjects and approaches, from phenomenology to detailed calculations, will be of interest to students from applied mathematics, physics, and computational biology. The first half of the course will give an overview of the fundamental physical process at play in biology. After an introduction to statistical mechanics, the topics will include molecular interactions, polymers, elasticity, chemical dynamics, and dynamics. The second part of the course will build on the first half and bridge the gap from the microscopic physics to the continuum scale in order to describe in detail the flow of complex, non-Newtonian fluids and the theory of phoretic motion relevant to colloidal science.
The material is for your private use. Please do not distribute. PDFs of many articles are accessible via links below.

Lecture Schedule (all lectures in MR14 at 11:00-12:00)

  • 7-19 October: REG - intro, molecular forces, fluctuations, elasticity
  • 21 October - 2 November: EL - viscoelasticity
  • 4-16 November: REG - chemical kinetics, patterns
  • 18-30 November: EL - phoretic motion, sensing

Lecture notes

Lecture notes from the previous Part III course on Biological Physics will be useful as supplements to REG's lectures: Caveat emptor: these will surely contain a significant number of errors and typos - so please let us know when you find them.

Examples Classes

  • 1: Wednesday, 26 October, 2016: MR11, CMS: 14:15-16:15
  • 2: Monday, 7 November, 2016: MR12, CMS: 14:00-16:00
  • 3: Monday, 21 November, 2016: MR12, CMS: 16:15-18:15
  • 4: Thursday, 23 January, 2017: MR12, CMS: 14:00-16:00

Examples Sheets

Handouts/Lectures from prior years

Supplementary Reading

The following is a collection of references (mostly from the primary literature) for the main topics of the course. These are being added as the course progresses. Below you find a list of books and topics which we recommend for reading.

Introductory Reading

  • P. Nelson. Biological Physics. W.H. Freeman (2007).
  • J.D. Murray. Mathematical Biology I. & II. Springer (2007, 2008).
  • K. Dill & S. Bromberg. Molecular Driving Forces. Garland (2009).
  • National Committee for Fluid Mechanics Films on "Rheological Behavior of Fluids" and "Low Reynolds Number Flow" [link]
  • D.V. Boger & K. Walters, Rheological Phenomena in Focus (1993 Elsevier).

Reading to complement course material

  • B. Alberts, A. Johnson, J. Lewis, M. Raff, K. Roberts and P. Walter. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 5th edition. Garland Science (2007).
  • J.N. Israelachvili. Intermolecular and Surface Forces. 2nd edition. Academic Press (1992).
  • E.J.W. Verwey and J.Th.G. Overbeek. Theory of the Stability of Lyophobic Colloids. Elsevier (1948).
  • M. Doi and S.F. Edwards. The Theory of Polymer Dynamics. OUP (1986).
  • A. Parsegian. Van der Waals Forces. CUP (2005).
  • D. Andelman & W. Poon. Condensed Matter Physics in Molecular and Cell Biology. Taylor & Francis (2006).
  • H.C. Berg. Random Walks in Biology. Princeton University Press (1993).
  • E. Schrödinger. What is Life? CUP (1992).
  • M. Haw. Middle World. Macmillan (2006).
  • J.B.S. Haldane: On Being the Right Size

van der Waals forces

DLVO Theory and Charged Membranes

Hydration Repulsion

Manning Condensation

Brownian Motion

Entropic Forces


Buckling Filaments


Pattern Formation


Research Papers

Action Potentials

Non-Newtonian Flows

Phoretic Motion

Swimming of Individual Organisms