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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: August 2014

12 - Molecular Biophysics

Summary

Biophysics is not a single entity. It is a congregate of a plethora of disciplines such as molecular biology, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, bioinformatics, nanotechnology and even mathematics, to name a few. It answers a lot of questions quite similar to the ones researched in molecular biology but uses very unconventional methods to do so. To put it simply, it studies the interaction of various systems of a cell within the cell itself and outside it and can cover an astonishingly wide range of topics. More specifically, biophysics is the study of life phenomenon.

The living organism and the biosphere are not isolated; they exchange matter and energy continuously. From the thermodynamic perspective, “A living organism feeds on negative entropy”. Several alternative definitions exist. For example, the postulate of life states that “Life itself should be looked upon as a basic postulate of biology that does not lend itself to further analysis”. According to Bohr's uncertainty principle, “Physico-chemical properties of living organisms and the life phenomenon cannot be studied simultaneously”. This implies that cognition of one excludes the other. According to Schrödinger, “An organism is an aperiodic crystal”. This is a very well-defined conceptualization of any organism. An organism is a complex many-body system of numerous biomolecules interacting through innumerable physico-chemical reactions in an orderly, coordinated and regulated manner. In physical science, a crystal exhibits spatial order which allows a comprehensive description of this material through statistical means. However, no such order is observed in living organisms. Nonetheless, millions of biochemical reactions are carried out with excellent accuracy and reproducibility inside the numerous cells constituting the organism.

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Fundamentals of Polymer Physics and Molecular Biophysics
  • Online ISBN: 9781107415959
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415959
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