The use of methods from the physical sciences to aid in the study of biological systems. Note that biophysics questions are only allowed if they are mainly about physics.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

4
votes
2answers
460 views

Why don't massive water-borne animals crush under their own weight when they're in water?

If you take a giant whale out of the water and put it on land for long enough, it will crush itself under its own weight. Why doesn't the animal get crushed under its own weight when it's in water?
4
votes
2answers
4k views

How do stun guns not kill people?

Now, I've seen a lot of answers to this sort of question, but most of them provide answers that don't actually make sense from a physics perspective. As an example of such an answer, I've commonly ...
4
votes
1answer
163 views

Radiation exposure to a child who was briefly in the presence of an adult who had received a 18FDG PET scan

I am a physician who thought she was good at math, but apparently am not as I cannot figure out this mathematical/physics question. (My background is obviously NOT nuclear medicine!) A family friend ...
4
votes
2answers
221 views

Difference in perception of unpolarized and polarized light

What is the difference in perception of polarized light and unpolarized light? What difference does polarized light cause to our eyes?
4
votes
2answers
772 views

Frequency of touch, taste, and scent [closed]

So I was thinking about sound - and how anything below 20Hz is basically inaudible to humans (because it is too low of a frequency to be recognized), as well as anything above around 20KHz (because it ...
4
votes
2answers
16k views

How efficient is the human body?

This question sort of comes to mind when hearing how efficient an internal combustion engine is turning chemical energy in mechanical energy (something like 20-40%) with lots of excess heat. As an ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

How does blood/saliva boil in outer space?

Why would the blood boil? Is it because of the temperature or pressure? Because I really can't figure it out. I thought space didn't have a temperature above freezing unless close to a star or the ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Is any work done when I walk?

I am trying to figure out the amount of work done when I walk X miles or for X minutes. So I got Work=Force x Distance and Force=Mass x Acceleration and Acceleration=(change in velocity)/time. I am ...
4
votes
1answer
584 views

How do sunflowers rotate?

Is there a physics mechanism to explain how sunflowers rotate to always face the sun? I tried to find more information or references using google search, but no luck.
4
votes
2answers
595 views

Examples of circuitry using proton currents

Proton cuircuits and proton motive force are part of standard discussion in biology and processes involving photosynthesis. The sort of proton currents discussed in biology are obviously slightly ...
4
votes
1answer
59 views

What, if anything, makes primary colours distinct?

I've recently become interested in the primary colours; red, green and blue. In my capacity as a computer programmer I'm well aware of how these colours are used practically, and of how varying ...
4
votes
3answers
263 views

How to calculate when wheels are better than legs?

We all know that it uses less energy to go by wheeled transport than walking if the terrain is smooth and there are not too many hills. We also all know that when going up steep hills we get off ...
4
votes
1answer
315 views

What is the minimum pressure difference for your ears to pop?

I'm assuming the answer to this largely varies from person to person. Assuming you could instantly change the pressure around your head by amount $\Delta p$, what is the minimum $\Delta p$ for your ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Why do people with bigger hands/wrists have bigger torque advantages in arm wrestling?

I have arm wrestled people with less strength than me who win simply because they have thicker wrists, or larger hands. It has nary to do with having better technique either, because their wrist size ...
4
votes
1answer
275 views

Anisotropic refractive index with isotropic components?

In relation to my question here I wanted to make sure that my physical argument was not flawed. Anisotropic properties, (especially refractive index) is characteristic of a well-ordered solid ...
4
votes
1answer
317 views

Voltage drop over a cell membrane

Again, a problem from exam preparation: [A] cell's membrane allows sodium ions to pass through it, but not chlorine ions. The cell is placed in a salty solution with a ten times higher ...
4
votes
8answers
645 views

Is relativity necessary for the existence of life?

If the universe didn't have the relativity principle, would it be able to support life? Life consists of very complicated organisms. The operation of these organisms depends on the laws of physics. ...
3
votes
4answers
5k views

Is it only red, green and blue that can make up any color through additive mixture?

I'm reading about color vision and have some trouble understanding the motivation for why the trichromatic theory was suggested in the first place. The book I'm reading ("Psychgology: The science of ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Does staring at a bright LED light damage your eyes?

According to this article it seems that it is the UV part of the spectrum from the Sun that causes damage to the eye. Would it therefore be "safe" to observe directly an equivalent energy density LED ...
3
votes
3answers
950 views

How do human ears distinguish the frequencies in sound?

If they do a Fourier transform, how can they know the formula to find coefficients?
3
votes
3answers
185 views

Size of black hole so large that I could pass event horizon without dying from tidal forces?

Were I to fall towards a typical black hole, the tidal forces would rip me apart well before I got to the event horizon. However, if a black hole were big enough, I could enter the event horizon ...
3
votes
2answers
145 views

How Safe Are Heat Ray Guns?

Could a little meddling with the frequencies of the Heat Ray Gun beam result in frying crowds rather than dispersing them?
3
votes
2answers
371 views

When jumping into water, how deep should the water be to survive?

How deep can I go if jumping from 50m?
3
votes
2answers
346 views

How much work will a human do to lift a weight?

I saw a pretty simple homework question here that asked how much work it takes to lift a 200 kg weight, and while the math for a basic answer is simple the weightlifter in me instead wanted to ...
3
votes
1answer
615 views

Is it dangerous if one elementary particle with high energy penetrates our brain?

We might be killed if a bullet penetrates our brain. How about an elementary particle moving with high energy penetrates our brain? Assume that we can have exactly a single elementary particle for ...
3
votes
2answers
311 views

How do animal perceive distances with their eyes and ears

I am studying how animals (including the human beings) can perceive distances thanks to their eyes and their ears. I am focusing on the fact that they always go in pairs: two eyes, two ears, etc. ...
3
votes
1answer
296 views

Entropy of a polymer contained in a sphere with infinitely thin chords

Imagine that I have a polymer (approximated as a freely diffusing, freely jointed chain with some number of subunits 'N'), and I place this polymer into a sphere of some volume 'V'. Next, I proceed to ...
3
votes
1answer
144 views

How accurately can we measure human electromagnetic fields?

How accurately can our current technological tools measure the human bio-electromagnetic field emitted by a person? Or, to put it differently, does each person have a different electromagnetic field ...
3
votes
1answer
472 views

How muscle force work? [closed]

If muscle works with force on joint and joint works with exact force on muscle(newton III law) how can muscle drag much heavier weight than itself?
3
votes
1answer
179 views

Why do beverages taste different based on how cold they are? [closed]

Why does temperature effect the taste of beverages? Specifically, how does the temperature for example mask certain tastes ie filtered vs unfiltered water taste very similar at colder temp and Is ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

How does a stronger magnet affect the MRI image quality?

In which ways is a stronger magnet better for magnetic resonance imaging? I read that: The field strength of the magnet will influence the quality of the MR image regarding chemical shift ...
3
votes
0answers
113 views

Fluctuation spectrum of lipid bilayer membranes

I am interestend in calculating the fluctuation spectrum of a thermally fluctuating 2d membane which is only subject to a surface tension $\sigma$. ($\mathcal{H}=\sigma\int\mathrm{d}A$) Depending in ...
2
votes
2answers
357 views

What are the main issues that are preventing a human mission to Mars? [closed]

Is it just because it'd be very expensive? Or are there serious problems that need to be dealt with, studied and solved? If so, what are they?
2
votes
2answers
160 views

Order of magnitude estimation for some intriguing questions

The physics TA showed us a few examples in which one can estimate many things from first principles, sound logic, and scaling arguments. This led usually to understanding of why some numbers have the ...
2
votes
1answer
125 views

Can there be some non-electromagnetic radiation which would be perceived by human eye as light?

Can there be some non-electromagnetic radiation which would be perceived by human eye as light? I mean, say ultra-sound or some particle rays etc.
2
votes
2answers
175 views

Harmlessness of a pure alpha decay particle

From my high school physics class I remember that there are some particles which exhibit pure alpha decay (i.e. alpha decay to there stable isotope), like Po-210, Po-211 and Bi-209. What I also know ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Why can you see a light in the location that the light source just left?

This is my first question on this site so forgive me for the awkward wording of the question. Basically, my question is why does light from, say, a sparkler, seem to remain where it just came from to ...
2
votes
2answers
651 views

Why human and most of vertebrates cannot see Near-Infrared light (720nm-1500nm)? [closed]

On daytime, the surface of Earth is illuminated abundantly by light of spectrum from 250nm-1500nm, that includes near-ultraviolet spectrum (250nm-380nm), visible spectrum (380nm-720nm) and ...
2
votes
4answers
542 views

What was the motivation behind suggesting the trichromatic theory of vision?

Background In this thread, I asked whether it is true that the colors red, green and blue, through additive mixture, can make up any color. Turns out they can't. However, when reading about the ...
2
votes
2answers
109 views

Quantum uncertainty in cell functions

In class today (philosophy of the mind) we discussed the ideas of Richard Lewontin. He stated that in determining the phenotype of a gene we must take into account the environment but also quantum ...
2
votes
2answers
229 views

Is metabolic rate the amount of heat given off?

The Basal Metabolic Rate is intuitively expressed as "the amount of energy you consume just sitting around." In some places it seems to be equated with the amount of heat that you give off. Is this ...
2
votes
1answer
35 views

Definition of Sievert (Sv) unit - is it whole body mass?

I'm wondering about the definition of the Sievert (Sv) unit. It is J/Kg but is that Kg the mass of the whole body or just of the exposed body part? For instance, when a table says that an x-ray of a ...
2
votes
3answers
374 views

Electric impluses inside nerve cells

I'm not a biologist, nor physicist, but there is one thing I try to understand about the elecricity inside human body. I wasn't sure whether place this question here, or perhaps on biology portal, but ...
2
votes
1answer
152 views

physically modelling the Saltatory nerve impulse transmission?

The nerve impulse transmission is specifically a biophysical process. Under a resting stage, the membrane is already polarised (presence of charge on either side leading to a potential difference ...
2
votes
2answers
229 views

Can wireless power transfer harm organic life by anyway?

Now, humanity can beam 50-60 watts power through 10 centimeter-thick concrete block. Can such wireless power transfer harm us by anyways?
2
votes
1answer
218 views

Would a six-inch person face certain death when falling from a great height?

In Mary Norton's The Borrowers Aloft, the borrowers are like humans in every way except size - normal adult height is six inches. One family of three is captured by a human couple and housed in an ...
2
votes
2answers
195 views

What would be walking speed in low gravity?

In $1g$ the average adult human walks 4-5 km in an hour. How fast would such a human walk in a low gravity environment such as on the Moon $(0.17g)$ or Titan $(0.14g)$? Let's ignore the effects of ...
2
votes
1answer
158 views

Walking & Swinging

How can I show that the most convenient way to move the arms while walking is swinging them back and forth, alternatively? To pose the question in another way: can I prove, starting from the ...
2
votes
2answers
98 views

“In-head” sound intensity with and without earplugs

When you bite something in two pieces, e.g. a piece of hard candy, you hear the sound through two sources: vibrations in the air, entering your ears from the outside and internal vibrations in your ...
2
votes
1answer
85 views

Why electric field has a major role in vision?

Although the electromagnetic wave is made op of both electric and magnetic fields the electric field contributes much in vision and is thus, called the light vector. But, why is it that the electric ...