Combined Bachelor's + Master's degree in Medicine and Surgery

Physics-Medical statistics - FONDAMENTI DI FISICA

Course code
Name of lecturer
Pasquina Marzola
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
1° semestre dal Sep 30, 2019 al Jan 10, 2020.

To show the organization of the course that includes this module, follow this link * Course organization

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The aim of the course is to provide the students with the basic knowledge of mechanics, fluids, thermodynamics, optics and electricity.
At the end of the course, the students will be able to:
a) Show to possess good knowledge of the fundamental laws of classical Physics.
b) Understand how such laws can be applied to different fields of biomedical interest in order to solve practical problems that they will face during their studies.
c) Solve simple problems in physics also applied to biomedical and biological phenomena.


1. Introduction
Units, standards and the SI system, dimensional analysis. Practical units. Scalar and Vector quantities. Operations on vectors (addition, subtraction, dot product, cross product). Graphic and Analytical Methods.

2. Elements of Mechanics
Position, displacement, velocity and acceleration. Average and instantaneous velocity. Uniform motion. Motion at constant acceleration. Uniform circular motion. Motion in two dimensions.
Dynamics: Newton’s Laws of motion. Weight: the force of gravity. The normal force. Linear Momentum and its conservation. Work and Energy. Theorem of kinetic energy. Conservative and dissipative forces. Potential energy, mechanical energy and its conservation. Gravitational and elastic potential energy . Power.
Angular quantities. Torque of a force. Couple of forces. Moment of inertia, Angular momentum and its conservation. Equilibrium of rigid bodies. Levers of I, II; III kind. Static equilibrium analysis in some real situations as muscles and joints. Mechanical and technological properties of materials: Young's modulus and Hooke's law.

3. Fluids
Density and specific gravity. Definition of pressure, flow rate, official and practical units. Measurement of pressure, manometers. Sphygmomanometer. Pascal's Law, Stevin's law, Archimedes' principle. Ideal fluid, Equation of continuity, Bernoulli's Equation. Applicatons of Bernoulli’s equation. Venturi effect. Viscous fluid, viscosity measurement and units. Poiseuille’s law, hydraulic resistance. Exercises and Applications in the circulatory system. Laminar or turbulent flow, the Reynolds number. Cardiac work. Kinetic factor. Surface tension. Laplace’s law. Applications of the Laplace’s. Capillarity.

4. Electric Phenomena
Electric charge, definitions and units. Coulomb's law. Electric field, Energy, Electric Potential. Definition and units. Electric dipole, dipole layer, potential of a quiescent cell and of a front of depolarization. Electric currents, Ohm's law, Joule's law, resistors in series and parallel, Capacity, capacitors in series and in parallel. Electric power. RC circuit.
Basics of Electromagnetism: Magnets and magnetic fields, magnetic fields produced by electric currents, force on an electric current in a magnetic field; definition and units. Lorentz force, Ampere's and Faraday-Neumann-Lenz Laws. Examples. Principle of operation of some medical devices.

5. Thermodynamics
Temperature, heat, specific heat. Definitions and units. Thermometer and temperature scales. Heat transfer by conduction, convection, radiation. Evaporation. Gas laws and absolute temperature. Thermodynamic transformations. First and second law of thermodynamics. Entropy.

6. Optics and Waves
Wave phenomena, mechanical and electromagnetic waves. Wavelength, frequency and speed of propagation, intensity. Sound. Light: geometric optics. Laws of reflection and refraction. Optical fiber and medical applications. Plane mirror. Concave mirror. Paraxial approximation of geometric optics. Thin lenses, lens diopters. Equation of conjugate points for the plane mirror, concave mirror and thin lenses. Construction of images. The simple microscope.

7. Atomic and Nuclear Physics, Radioactivity and Radiation Protection (mention).
Production of X-ray fluorescence and bremsstrahlung. Electron volts, definition and use. Interaction of X-rays - gamma with matter: photoelectric effect, Compton effect, pair production. Half value thickness. Fundamentals of diagnostic radiology. Radioactivity, law of radioactive decay.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Scannicchio D. Fisica Biomedica Edises 2013 978 88 7959 781 4
Giancoli D. Fisica. Principi e applicazioni CEA 2006 8808087735

Assessment methods and criteria

Written test consisting of simple exercises on the topics covered during the course and multiple choice questions. Possible oral exam (optional), which aims to acquire, if necessary, further elements for evaluation of students and eventually clarify aspects of the written test.

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