PHY 231 College Physics: Biomedical Applications


Text:  J. D. Cutnell and K. W. Johnson, Physics 8th Ed, (Wiley, New York 2009)


Instructor: Ulrich Zurcher,

                     Science Building, Room 114, Phone: 687-2429


Lecture: TR10-11:15  LB240 [that’s the Law Building]

Lab:  T8-10, T1-3, SI 117 – we’ll meet in the first week


Office Hours: TBA and anytime you find the instructor in SI-114


Course Website:

   This website will be used as a primary source of interactions:

     Homework, announcements, lecture notes….


Text: You have 2 options:

(1)   Buy the package in the CSU bookstore: (printed version of text plus access code]

(2)   Buy access code online to which gives you the online access and buy a used version of 6th or 7th ed of text [or print out from Wiley – but not in Physics Dept!]


Course Material:  Physical principles are the foundations of all natural science.  The fundamental laws of physics are explained and are illustrated using examples (mostly) from biology and medicine. 


Supplemental Instruction (SI): This course offers Supplemental Instruction for students who wish to participate.  An SI Leader (a fellow CSU student) has been assigned to this course and will hold regular sessions outside of class time to allow students to review material discussed in class, discuss and add to lecture notes, apply reading comprehension strategies, get help with assignments, prepare for the tests, etc. Research suggests that students who attend early and often can score up to one letter grade higher than if they did not attend an SI session.

Students who cannot make these times but wish to make use of Supplemental Instruction should contact the SI Leader or the Tutoring & Academic Success Center (216-687-2012,   Times will be announced in the first week of class.



Outline: (tentative)








Kinematics in 1d



Kinematics in 2d

Two-dimensional motion


Forces Newton's Laws

Newton's Laws


Dynamics of Uniform Circ Motion

Uniform Circular Motion


Work and Energy

Conservation of Mechanical Energy


Impulse and Momentum

Conservation of Linear Momentum


Rotational Kinematics

Rotational Kinematics


Rotational Dynamics

Moment of Inertia and Torque


Harmonic Motion

Harmonic Motion



Archimedes Principle


Temp and Heat

Melting of Ice


Ideal Gas Law & Kinetic Theory

Gas Thermometer



Velocity Distribution





Examinations:  3 midterm exams and one final exam.   The final exam is comprehensive and covers problems from all “units.”  If the score of a midterm exam is lower than the score of the final exam, the midterm exam score is replaced by the corresponding score of the final exam.  That is, you get a second chance for all midterm exams!  No make-up exams for the midterm exams will be offered. 

The midterm exams are one hour each.  Practice exams will be posted on the website.  The exams are closed books and notes, however a “cheat sheet” will be provided. 

Calculators are allowed for all exams.


Exam 1:  Tues 9/20; Exam 2:  Tues 10/18; Exam 3:  Tues 11/15


Homework:  Homework is assigned each week.  We use the Internet-based WileyPlus system from Wiley. Detailed solutions of the homework will be posted on the WileyPlus course website.

WileyPlus is setup such that each student has his/her individual numbers.  Each time you log on, the system “remembers” you and returns the same set of numbers. You have three trials.

Quizzes:  There are two quizzes for each lecture period.  One quiz before the lecture that and one quiz at the end of the lecture.  All quizzes are multiple choice questions with [mostly] qualitative questions.  The quiz prior to the lecture is done via WileyPlus.  A correct answer earns 2 points, a wrong answer 1 point.

Laboratory: The laboratory part has 15 labs.  A lab report must be written for each lab.


Grades: The grade for PHY 231 will be based on a maximum of 1000 points according to the following scheme:

Midterm Exams

300 points (100 points each)

Final Exam

300 points


200 points


100 points

Quizzes [both online and in class]

100 points


[A: 90-100; A-: 85-90; B+: 80-85; B: 75-80; B-: 70-75; C+: 65-70; C: 55-65; D: 40-55; F: < 40]


Additional Material:  Scientific calculator [with trig functions] such as TI-30, or the Scientific Calculator from CVS.  Graphing calculator is not required [or necessary].


Computer Labs: The computers in the Physics Department are available if no class is using the lab space. Use CSU Id to login. Note that you are not allowed to download any software on the PC.  Also, do not print entire chapters out of Cutnell&Johnson.


MCAT: WileyPlus has additional material for each chapter as a preparation for the MCAT.  Students taking the MCAT are strongly encouraged to do all the problems.


Lecture notes:  Material not covered in Cutnell & Johnson will be posted on course website.


Partial list of biological and medical applications:


High and Long jump [Newton’s laws, energy conservation]

Running and walking [Circular motion]

Swimming [momentum conservation]

Basal metabolic rate [Energy and Work]

Biomechanics of trees and plants [forces and torques]

Physics of air bubbles [surface tension]

Properties of cells [surface tension]

Blood pressure and blood circulation [fluids]

Elasticity of DNA [entropy]


Suggested Complementary Reading: talk to the Instructor for help!