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First Semester 
Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)
[40/39]  MEDICINE AND SURGERY [39/00 - Ord. 2020]  PERCORSO COMUNE 5 50


This course has the primary objective to provide the knowledge on the basic laws of physics and the capacity (i) to apply them to explain the main phenomena of biological and medical interests; (ii) to get the necessary background to explain the functioning of the human body and the sources of some pathological conditions; (iii) to gain the basics to understand the operation of the main medical devices. We refer to the next section for a more detailed list of topics covered during the course.

At the end of the course the student should be able to analyze and explain the main biophysical processes of the human body by exploiting physics laws. Skills in problem solving are acquired during the course.

Additionally, the student should develop a critical attitude in assessing the validity of physical models adopted to describe the biomedical phenomena. Furthermore, the student should be able to insert the physics concepts
within a precise and rigorous framework, possibly establishing and deepening connections among different topics.


Elementary Mathematics and Physics (as taught in high schools)
Physical quantities and the systems of measurement. Kinematics and Dynamics of point particles. Work and energy. Static of fluids. Thermology, ideal gas law, 1 e 2 principle of thermodynamics. General phenomena in acoustic and optics: reflection, refraction, simple lenses and mirrors. Introduction to electrostatic and electrodynamic: Coulomb law, electric field and potential, capacitors, elementary circuits, continuous currents, electrical resistance, Joule effect, power generator.
Natural, integer, rational and real numbers and their operations. Order of magnitude and scientific notation. Proportions and percentages. Power with integer and rational exponent and their properties. Logarithm (10 and e base) and their properties. Algebraic expressions and polynomials. Equations and inequalities of first and second degrees. Elementary functions and their graphical representation.
Polygons, circumference and circle, sphere and spherical surfaces. Angles in degree and radians. Sinus, cosinus and tangent, trigonometric equations and application to right triangles. Cartesian coordinates in two and three dimensions. Equation of a straight line. Probability, frequency and average value.


Basic concepts in mathematics and physics; derivatives and integrals: link to physical quantities; vectors, scalar product and dot prodcut.

Rigid body: equilibrium conditions, translational and rotational motions; Levers in human body and fracture.
Dynamics of perfect fluids. Dynamics of real fluids: laminar and turbulent flow. Resistance and Poiseuille law. The human cardiovascular system.

Phenomena based on surface tension. The physics of blood flow and breathing. Diffusion and osmosis.

Internal energy and enthalpy. Thermodynamic cycles, thermal machines and performance. Entropy, free energy and work. Conditions for spontaneous evolution of systems.

Properties of insulators and conductors. Charge-discharge of a capacitor. Introduction to magnetic fields generated by currents and permanent magnets. Effect of magnetic field on currents and charges. Magnetic induction phenomena and self-induction.

Propagation of waves: example of elastic, sound and electromagnetic waves. Stationary waves. Doppler effect. Beyond geometrical optics: the ondulatory theory of optics. The hearing apparatus and ultrasounds.
The eye and its defects. Magnification and resolving power of optical instruments.
Optical systems for the correction of vision defects, ultrasound systems for therapy and diagnosis.

Teaching Methods

Stand-up lectures and practice.
Written tests during the course to improve the self evaluation attitude

During the lectures students will be strongly involved essentially in two stages:
1) Summary of the previous lecture: groups of students discussed the main items of the previous lecture and a group will be selected to present them. Short discussion will follow. Totally, this will last 5-7 minutes at the beginning of the lecture;
2) Questions during the lecture: answers to the questions will be given by groups of students or by each single student.
By adopting this strategy it is possible to check student comprehension and ability to catch the essential points of the lecture. Additionally, every 10 days students will receive a homework. If the homework is positively solved, the mark will contribute to the final note.
About 10 hours will be devoted explicitly to exercises, although each main topic presented during the lectures will be integrated by examples.

Lectures will be delivered mainly face-to-face. Online integrations and explanations are also possible in order to strength the attendance.

Verification of learning

Evaluation of the exam will be done according to
-Mandatory written exercises on the basic topics; the vote in this test, at the discretion of the commission, may preclude admission to the next oral exam made by audits on applied physics.
-During the teaching period two written exercise sessions can substitute the exercises before the audits.
-A mandatory oral test on physics topics considered during the course.

Overall score expressed as 18-30/30 based on the following items:
Quality of knowledge and mathematical skills:
a) suitability and accuracy of the skills;
b) suitability and accuracy of the proficiency;
c) suitability and accuracy of the expertise.

Exposition quality:
a) Expressiveness;
b) Use of the proper technical jargon;
c) Ability of establishing logical connections between different topics and aspects;
d) Capacity for synthesis.

The evaluation is:
a) Passing (from 18 to 20/30)
The student explains few concepts with several shortcomings but a sufficient expressiveness; shallow logical ability and poor capacity for synthesis; poor interaction with the lecturer during the oral test.
b) Fair (from 21 to 23/30)
The student shows a fairly broad spectrum of knowledge, but she/he demonstrates a poor deepening attitude; knowledge gaps are limited; fair ability in establishing connections between different items and in answering questions; fair capacity for synthesis.
c) Good (from 24 to 26/30)
The students demonstrates a good knowledge of the topics with few gaps; good expressiveness and capacity for synthesis; good mastery of scientific terms and concepts also via graphical interpretation.
d) Very good (from 27 to 29/30)
The student manages a manifold of physical concepts, which she/he has deepened; very few minor gaps are identified; very good interactive ability and remarkable attitude toward links between different topics; relevant capacity for synthesis and graphical elaboration.
e) Excellent (30/30)
In addition to a very broad spectrum of competence in physics, the student has an excellent expressiveness and manages the proper scientific jargon; topics are approached with the appropriate criticism and connections are well identified; great propensity to the use of mathematical and graphical tools to solve problems.
Honours are are granted to students that have perfored well above the average; possible gaps in knowledge and logical attitude as well as lack of proper jargon are irrelevant.

Registration for the exam takes place via the online exam booking service for students on ESSE3.


G. Bellini, R. Cerbino, G. Manuzio: Fisica per medicina con applicazione fisiologiche, diagnostiche e terapeutiche (Piccin-Nuova Libreria 2018)*;
D. Scannicchio: Fisica Biomedica (EdiSES, Napoli 2009)*.
J.S. Walker: Fondamenti di Fisica (Zanichelli, Bologna, 2005)
U. Gasparini, M. Margoni, F. Simonetto: Fisica, vol. 1 e 2 (Piccin, Padova, 2020)

More Information

Student reception by appointment by e-mail

P. Ruggerone, Department of Physics - Cittadella Universitaria di Monserrato

1. Downloadable version of the written test by the personal homepage of the lecturer;
2. Lectures are in Italian.

Questionnaire and social

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