Lifelong Learning New York City

Lifelong Learning at  Swarthmore: New York City

Fall 2018:

Physics, Modern Medicine and the Body (LLS 183NY)

Meets Tuesdays from 6:45-9:15 p.m.  

Dates and place: 

Sept. 25 – Nov. 20, except Nov. 6 (Elec. Day)

1211 Sixth Avenue (@ 48th St.), Floor 38, Ropes & Gray, LLP

The impact that physics is having on the practice of clinical medicine today is nothing short of staggering. This course introduces nonscientists to the physics underlying many present-day diagnostic and therapeutic techniques.

However, the development of these techniques often raises economic and ethical questions.  E.g., are laser surgery and proton beam cancer treatments demonstrably better than their conventional counterparts?  Do their significantly higher costs justify their use?

The human body is also adept at using the laws of physics for many of its functional systems.  We study the physics of the circulatory system, the nervous system, nutrition, the mechanics of the musculoskeletal system, and the wave theory and optics behind vision and hearing.

Major topics:

Diagnostic tools:  ultrasound, lasers, MRIs

The physics of the heart and circulation

The physics of cancer

X-radiation vs. proton beam therapy


Hearing and vision

The nervous system (nerves are not electric wires!)

The professor:

Frank Moscatelli, the Edward Hicks Magill Professor Emeritus of Physics at Swarthmore.  His research interests range from laser atomic physics to using lasers in biomedical imaging.  He has done research in collaborations with the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, The Naval Research Laboratory, and the U. of P. He especially enjoys teaching the seminal ideas in physics that have reshaped our thinking about the universe.