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Physics of the Human Body

Semester 2

This course provides an introduction to human anatomy and body systems. The laws of physics are used to explain several bodily functions including the mechanics of muscles and body movements, fluid mechanics of blood and air flow, hearing and acoustic properties of the ears, vision optics, heat and energy, acoustics, and electrical signaling. The effects of various environmental phenomena on the body are explored and include discussions on the behavior of the body in low gravity environment (e.g. in space).

  • Basic anatomy of the human body
  • Terminology, modeling, and measurement
  • Energy, heat, work, and power of the body
  • Muscle and forces
  • Physics of the skeleton
  • Pressure in the body
  • Physics of the lungs and breathing
  • Physics of the cardiovascular system
  • Electrical signals from the body
  • Sound and speech
  • Physics of the ear and hearing
  • Physics of the eyes and vision.
  • Human  body in space and microgravity

The course assessment will be conducted as follows:

Final Examination

One 2-hour final written examination                 60%


One 1-hour in-course test                                             20%

Four graded assignments (equally weighted)                  20%


Students will be expected to satisfy the examiners in both components.

Learning Objectives: 

At the end of the course the students should be able to:

  • describe the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems of the human body
  • apply the principles of physics to explain the biomechanics of the body
  • use physical quantities to explain the functioning of cardiovascular and pulmonary systems
  • analyse the electrical conduction system of the nerves, the brain and the heart
  • explain how physics influences the functions of the visual and auditory system
  • solve basic conceptual and numerical problems of human body related to energy, work, acceleration, forces, electricity, magnetism, sound, optics and modern physics
  • describe the effects of space flight and microgravity on the human body
PHYS1411 and PHYS1412 and PHYS1421 and PHYS1422


Herman, I.P. (2007), Physics of the Human Body, Springer. ISBN: 978-3540296034

Highly Recommended

Cameron, J. R., Skofronick, J. G. and Grant, R. M. (1999), Physics of the Body, Medical Physics Publishing, 2nd Ed., ISBN: 978-0944838914

Davidovits, P., (2008), Physics in Biology and Medicine, 3rd Edition, Elsevier/Academic Press, ISBN: 978-0123694119


Patton, K., and Thibodeau, G., (2009), Anthony's Textbook of Anatomy & Physiology, 19th Edition , Mosby. ISBN: 978-0323055390

Online resources:

1. The Visible Human Project

2. Visible Body

3. Human Physiology in Space, Barbara F Lujan; Ronald J White; Howard Bartner; United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Online Edition, National government publication. 

Course Code: 
3 Credits
Level 2
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