By Philip Nelson
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Additional resources for Biological physics. Energy, information, life
4. Velocity has dimensions of LT 1 . In SI units we measure it in m s−1 (pronounced “meters per second”). 5. Acceleration has dimensions of LT−2 . In SI units we measure it in m s−2 . 6. Force has dimensions of MLT−2 . In SI units we measure it in kg m s−2 , which we also call newtons and abbreviate as N. 7. Energy has dimensions of ML2 T−2 . In SI units we measure it in kg m2 s−2 , which we also call joules and abbreviate as J. 8. Electrical charge has dimensions of Q, by deﬁnition. In SI units we measure it in units of coulombs, abbreviated in this book as coul to avoid confusion with the symbol C.
One famous example of this process is Max Delbr¨ uck’s deduction of the existence of a hereditary molecule, to be discussed in Chapter 3. We’ll see another example in Chapters 11–12, namely the discovery of ion pumps and channels in cells. Physics students are heavily trained on the right end of the ﬁgure, the techniques for working through the consequences of a mathematical model. But this is not enough. Uncritically accepting someone’s model can easily lead to a large body of both theory and experiment culminating in irrelevant results.
Calculate the energy yield per liter of oxygen consumed for each food type, and note that it is roughly constant. Thus we can determine a person’s metabolic rate simply by measuring her rate of oxygen consumption. In contrast, the CO2 /O2 ratios are diﬀerent for the diﬀerent food groups; this circumstance allows us to estimate what is actually being used as the energy source, by comparing oxygen intake to carbon dioxide output. b. An average adult at rest uses about 16 liters of O2 per hour. The corresponding heat release is called the “basal metabolic rate” (BMR).