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Thread: Why, as a Bio Major, do I need Physics?!!

  1. #1 Why, as a Bio Major, do I need Physics?!! 
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    It's upsetting. I got through one of the courses I need (a few years ago at community college) but I hear that the two teachers offering Physics II at my current school are terrible. I'd hate to think that one class could possibly keep me from living my dream. I could get a BA but it just isn't the same...I would prefer a BS for Grad school...if Bio majors need to take Chem and Physics why don't Physics and Chem majors have to take Bio?! Don't you find it somewhat unfair?


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  3. #2  
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    I think most majors require at least basic biology.

    However if they don't even if for say chemistry, you can do chemistry without ever coming across biology. You cannot do biology without coming across chemistry.

    Physics is a little harder in my opinion to justify but then I am not far along on the path to my biology degree. Perhaps someone more educated would know better on that one.


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    I think it is just a matter of having a well rounded education. Besides, you never know when some kind of knowledge can be applied to what you are doing.

    As an example, if you are studying electrical activity of the heart, such as would be measured by an electrocardiogram, it might help to know some basic theory of electricity.

    Another example might be the function of pulmonary surfactant.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulmona...actant#History
    A lot of premature babies died before somebody who understood both physics and medicine figured out why it was happening.
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  5. #4  
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    Yes, but it will do me no good to take the class because I'll completely forget what I've learned once its over because it'll be drowned out by Bio and Chem... I took World Civ II three years ago, for example, and now I literally remember zilch. Can't even recall the title of the book.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    Yes, but it will do me no good to take the class because I'll completely forget what I've learned once its over because it'll be drowned out by Bio and Chem... I took World Civ II three years ago, for example, and now I literally remember zilch. Can't even recall the title of the book.
    You need mathematics to understand physics.

    You need physics to understand chemistry.

    You need chemistry to understand biology.

    If you will completely forget what you learned in a critical class then perhaps you should consider a field that does not require that discipline. Biology is not it.
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    You don't need to be an expert in mathematics in order to study Biology. That's why we have Chemistry and Physics. Those are for people who excell in math. I've always wanted to study fossils and perhaps research cancer...areas that usually aren't math-centered. However, I love Chemistry and don't think I'll have any trouble until I get to Organic Chem. Even then, I'll make sure I at least get a C in the course (there are tutors available).
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    PS- ask any Biologist what he knows about Physics. He may recall Heisenberg's uncertainty principle or that fact that no two things actually touch. He or she won't start spouting mathematical formulas. Biologists use LANGUAGE to communicate, not formulas. And no one has addressed why Chem and Physics majors don't need to take Bio courses yet...I mean you can't understand the behaviour of subatomic or atomic particles without understanding the organisms composed of such matter, can you? (sarcasm) Think about it, one is a bottom up approach (learn physics to learn chem to learn bio) and what I've just suggested (bio, then chem, then physics) is a top down approach. You may say "well, we need to know about body processes and animal development via chemical reactions" but when you learn Physics, shouldn't you have to learn more about how subatomic particles work together to form chemicals and then to form biological entities as well as the chemical processes involved in biology such as metabolism?
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    And no one has addressed why Chem and Physics majors don't need to take Bio courses yet...
    I didn't address it because I'm not sure it's even true. It certainly wasn't when I was in school. I took all kinds of courses that weren't related to my major - biology, anthropology, sociology, literature, etc. It's part of becoming educated.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    And no one has addressed why Chem and Physics majors don't need to take Bio courses yet...
    I didn't address it because I'm not sure it's even true. It certainly wasn't when I was in school. I took all kinds of courses that weren't related to my major - biology, anthropology, sociology, literature, etc. It's part of becoming educated.
    I agree. I've taken courses in history, anthropology, psychology, physics (intro class), drama, english, spanish, german, communications, etc, etc but I know it that Physics majors can easily avoid taking Bio if they chose to do so (at all of the schools I've attended). Also, Physics is generally a hell of a lot more difficult at the introductory level than any other course I can think of off of the top of my head. General Bio is easy. The reason I didn't major in Physics was to avoid the subject for the most part...lol
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  11. #10  
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    There's bound to be some physics in here somewhere 8) "Live the Dream"

    These are the main branches of biology:

    Aerobiology - study of airborne organic particles
    Agriculture - study of producing crops from the land, with an emphasis on practical applications
    Anatomy - the study of form and function, in plants, animals, and other organisms, or specifically in humans
    Astrobiology- the study of evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. Also known as exobiology, exopaleontology, and bioastronomy.
    Biochemistry - the study of the chemical reactions required for life to exist and function, usually a focus on the cellular level
    Bioengineering - the study of biology through the means of engineering with an emphasis on applied knowledge and especially related to biotechnology.
    Bioinformatics - the use of information technology for the study, collection, and storage of genomic and other biological data
    Biomathematics or Mathematical Biology - the study of biological processes through mathematics, with an emphasis on modeling.
    Biomechanics - often considered a branch of medicine, the study of the mechanics of living beings, with an emphasis on applied use through artificial limbs, etc.
    Biomedical research - the study of the human body in health and disease
    Biophysics - the study of biological processes through physics, by applying the theories and methods traditionally used in the physical sciences
    Biotechnology - a new and sometimes controversial branch of biology that studies the manipulation of living matter, including genetic modification
    Building biology - study of the indoor living environment
    Botany - the study of plants
    Cell biology - the study of the cell as a complete unit, and the molecular and chemical interactions that occur within a living cell.
    Conservation Biology - the study of the preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment, natural ecosystems, vegetation, and wildlife
    Cryobiology - the study of the effects of lower than normally preferred temperatures on living beings.
    Developmental biology - the study of the processes through which an organism forms, from zygote to full structure.
    Ecology - the study of the interactions of living organisms with one another and with the non-living elements of their environment.
    Embryology - the study of the development of embryo (from fecondation to birth). See also topobiology.
    Entomology - the study of insects
    Environmental Biology - the study of the natural world, as a whole or in a particular area, especially as affected by human activity
    Epidemiology - a major component of public health research, it is the study of factors affecting the health and illness of populations
    Ethology - the study of animal behavior.
    Evolutionary Biology - the study of the origin and descent of species over time
    Genetics - the study of genes and heredity.
    Herpetology - the study of reptiles and amphibians
    Histology - the study of cells and tissues, a microscopic branch of anatomy.
    Ichthyology - the study of fish
    Integrative biology - the study of whole organisms
    Limnology - the study of inland waters
    Mammalogy - the study of mammals
    Marine Biology - the study of ocean ecosystems, plants, animals, and other living beings.
    Microbiology - the study of microscopic organisms (microorganisms) and their interactions with other living things
    Molecular Biology - the study of biology and biological functions at the molecular level, some cross over with biochemistry
    Mycology - the study of fungi
    Neurobiology - the study of the nervous system, including anatomy, physiology, even pathology
    Oceanography - the study of the ocean, including ocean life, environment, geography, weather, and other aspects influencing the ocean.
    Oncology - the study of cancer processes, including virus or mutation oncogenesis, angiogenesis and tissues remoldings
    Ornithology - the study of birds
    Population biology - study of the populations of organisms - most often referred as ecology, or used to point out biology adaptations, biology events sum up
    Population ecology - the study of populations of organisms, including how they increase and go extinct (dynamics)
    Population genetics - the study of changes in gene frequencies in populations of organisms
    Paleontology - the study of fossils and sometimes geographic evidence of prehistoric life
    Pathobiology or pathology - the study of diseases, and the causes, processes, nature, and development of disease
    Parasitology - the study of parasites and parasitism
    Pharmacology - the study and practical application of preparation, use, and effects of drugs and synthetic medicines.
    Physiology - the study of the functioning of living organisms and the organs and parts of living organisms
    Phytopathology - the study of plant diseases (also called Plant Pathology)
    Psychobiology - study of the biological bases of psychology
    Sociobiology - study of the biological bases of sociology
    Structural biology - a branch of molecular biology, biochemistry, and biophysics concerned with the molecular structure of biological macromolecules
    Virology - the study of viruses and some other virus-like agents
    Zoology - the study of animals, including classification, physiology, development, and behavior (See also Entomology, Ethology, Herpetology, Ichthyology, Mammalogy, and Ornithology)
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  12. #11  
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    I'm going to take Physics II probably my senior year as my very last class along with Calc. Then, yes, I'll be "living my dream"...I guess
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    You don't need to be an expert in mathematics in order to study Biology. That's why we have Chemistry and Physics. Those are for people who excell in math. I've always wanted to study fossils and perhaps research cancer...areas that usually aren't math-centered. However, I love Chemistry and don't think I'll have any trouble until I get to Organic Chem. Even then, I'll make sure I at least get a C in the course (there are tutors available).
    Well it is true that you might not need to be an expert in mathematics or physics to study biology, but you might find it useful with some basic knowledge of the subjects. At times you might even need the assistance of an expert, in those cases it will certainly feel better to be able to at least "smile and nod" when getting some physical phenomenom explained.

    While I am not completely familiar with the everyday work of a biologist I will at least try to give an example where physics is necessary to get results.

    Lets say you are studying a fossile to take one of your examples, how do you decide how old the fossile is? Understanding a Carbon-14 test requires some basic knowledge of radioactive decay. Or lets say you are studying some fossilized footprints and wants to decide the weight and speed of whatever left them, even more physics and mathematics there if one wants to be certain.

    Regarding why physics students does not have to take biology courses: physics can some times explain biological phenomena while biology can rarely explain physical phenomena. This because biology is a higher level subject than physics, level being a neutral word in this context.

    However, being an engineering physics student myself I can say that while we have no compulsory biology courses, our lecturers often take examples from biology. For example one of our math teachers frequently made us calculate bird populations, another course had an assignment concerning diffusion of bacteria, courses in photonics and nuclear physics typically pick examples of applications in medicine, explaining how the lense in the eye works or describing some methods in cancer diagnostics and treatment. Then there are several optional courses applying mathematics and physics in the field of biology and medicine.
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    I've always wanted to study fossils and perhaps research cancer...areas that usually aren't math-centered.
    You have a false impression of reality. Palaeontologists require solid mathematical skills, especially in relation to statistics. Indeed, how the hell are you going to carry out any meaningful studies in population dynamics or any serious aspects of ethology without an excellent grounding in statistics?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    I've always wanted to study fossils and perhaps research cancer...areas that usually aren't math-centered.
    You have a false impression of reality. Palaeontologists require solid mathematical skills, especially in relation to statistics. Indeed, how the hell are you going to carry out any meaningful studies in population dynamics or any serious aspects of ethology without an excellent grounding in statistics?
    Yep, I'm deluded. Finnnnneeee I'll learn matttthhhhhh..lol
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  16. #15  
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    Oh and I said "study fossils", something not limited to paleontologists. I never said I'd excavate them myself. I may work in a museum.
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