Physics of Life 4. Wave phenomena
What you'll learn
- Basics of electromagnetism and sound as it applies to living things
- Elements of light and electromagnetism as they apply to living things
- About the Earth's magnetic field, how it is generated and how it interacts with the solar wind
- How variation in the Earth's magnetic field affects life on Earth and its relationship to major extinction events
- How organisms use the Earth's magnetic field for navigation
- What constitutes visible light, how it is sensed, and how information is encoded and transmitted in light
- Elements of sound, its production, energetics and efficiency
- How sound is used as a navigational tool, and how animals invented sonar
- How animals have weaponized sound to kill and stun prey
- How sound is sensed, and how information is encoded and transmitting in sound
- You should have completed high school physics and biology. Otherwise, there are no prerequisites.
Wave phenomena include any propagation of energy through waves. This includes electromagnetic radiation (which includes light and a range of other phenomena) and sound (which is energy propagated through pressure waves). Both are imporatnt to life because both are rich media for transmission of information, through vision or hearing. Wave phenomena also have implications for the Earth's global energy balance, with effects on Earth climate. They also play a role in the interaction of the Earth with the solar wind, with implications for the evolution and patterns of extinction of life on Earth.
Who this course is for:
- Beginning college-level students in biology and physics
- Students looking for a refresher course in the interface between biology and physics
- Students interested in evolution, biodiversity and the mechanics of adaptation
- Anyone looking for a novel perspective on how life lives in the physical world
I am a Professor of Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York.
I am a physiologist by training but with a deep interest in the interface of physiology, ecology, adaptation and evolution. You can read some of my thoughts in two books I have published: The Extended Organism: The Physiology of Animal-Built Structures (2000) and The Tinkerer's Accomplice: How Design Emerges from Life Itself (2007), both published by Harvard University Press. I have completed a third book, Purpose and Desire: What Makes Something Alive and Why Modern Darwinisms Fails to Explain It, which was published in September 2017 by HarperOne. You can find out more about me at my web site (link above).
My current research focuses on the problem of emergent physiology in social insect colonies. specifically the mound building termites of southern Africa.