PICUP Fall Webinar Series: Using Computing in Physics at the Molecular and Cellular Level P@MCL
In 2016, Michigan State University began a pilot of a new curriculum of introductory physics for life scientists. Because biology-related applications on the macroscale are complex and require mathematics beyond introductory calculus, the focus is entirely on applications from molecular and cellular biology, which are amenable to computing. The curriculum is designed around two main themes, diffusion and electric dipoles. In this talk I shall discuss how diffusion is explored as an emergent phenomenon of elastic collisions by building from one to many balls in a box. Extending the simulations to realistic force fields also illuminates bound states. These simulations provide the framework for introducing entropy from the perspective of statistical mechanics. They also mirror molecular dynamics simulations regularly used by computational biologists to study real phenomena such as protein folding and function.