Physics of Life

Teaching Animal physiology Physics of life Evolution Biophysical field methods A primer on symbiosis A primer on social insects

Physics of Life is an online course, available through It is inspired by the late Steven Vogel of Duke University, whose approach was to cast physical principles firmly in the context of biological adaptation.

Physics of Life consists of four modules:

Thermodynamics. Life is fundamentally a phenomenon of mobilizing energy to do order-producing work. (free previews here)

Biomechanics. Life operates in a world of forces and structures itself to manage energy and mechanical work. (free previews here)

Fluids. Life lives in a fluid environment, either air or water, where viscosity and inertia dominate the energetic transactions of life. (free previews here)

Wave phenomena. These are light and sound, one electromagnetic and the other mechanical. (free previews here)

If you have an interest in taking this course for academic credit, you can do so through your home institution using independent study credits. Each module constitutes about 1 hour of academic credit. All four together account for 4 academic credits.  The course is aimed at the first-year and second year biology student.

You can view the most recent syllabus here.

Metal fish sculpture, Ithaca Commons, Ithaca New York