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A Study of Biology and Physics
the foundation of modern genetics for all sexually reproducing organisms, which assumes that traits are passed down as whole units on a digital basis, rather than being watered down in an analogue fashion. Physicists come in many different guises, and what excites one may leave another cold. Medical imaging has made great strides during the past decades MRI, CAT scans and ultrasound being familiar to many from hospital visits, often transforming diagnostics and treatment and much of their development work can be directly attributed to physicists and engineers. Most recent models include the vital process known as transendothelial migration, by which a malignant cell detaches itself from the tumour and breaks through into the bloodstream so that it can be transported to a distant part of the body. But other physicists are quietly beavering away in less visible ways, doing what they've always done best: exploring the world around them with curiosity (that's with a small 'c cunning and creativity and at a wide range of different length- and time-scales. This applies to superconductivity in certain complicated inorganic compounds, but also to the synchronised beating of heart cells. The physicist can apply the same basic principles and insights to these two very different situations, and maybe cast new light by looking for universalities rather than the specifics arising from the particular amino acid sequence each different protein possesses. The many new microscopies which are transforming the way we see cells function also owe a lot to physicists' understanding of lenses, noise and image analysis algorithms, coupled with the power of lasers.
Chaplain is in little doubt that the overwhelming need is to attract good mathematicians in the first instancethose who might have started out not considering biology at all. Complexity and emergent phenomena are most definitely now seen as proper domains for a physicist. The human immune system, for example, involves events at the level of individual gene expression or protein interactions that take place in nanoseconds; cellular mechanisms or body-wide events that can take minutes, hours or days; and interactions between people or even whole populations that last.
Doing so, however, is easier said than done. Although in most places science is taught as different disciplines, actually, it's all connected! The broader point is that mathematical biology itself can appeal to people who are interested in either a theoretical or practical career in almost any discipline, whether this is cancer research, disease control, environmental issues, or fundamental questions concerning genetics and evolution. If either of these is achieved, the initial background is less important. But historically often this wasn't a true collaboration, more a sort of service agreement, which can end up being frustrating for both sides. Since then, the field has advanced in various ways to model changes in the dynamics of the blood system as the tumour grows, and to include delivery of drugs in the models (.