Biophysics: An Introduction ,

Rodney M. J.
Cotterill
,
Wiley
,
New York
, 2002. $115.00, $39.95 paper (395 pp.). ISBN 0-471-48537-3, ISBN 0-471-48538-1 paper

When I started reading Rodney Cotterill’s Biophysics: An Introduction, I got bogged down because the first part deals with energies, forces, and the making and breaking of bonds, and includes appendixes on quantum mechanics and the hydrogen atom. Is there any biophysics here? Read on. One soon learns about useful biophysical techniques ranging from x-ray diffraction to optical tweezers; about DNA, RNA, and proteins; about energy production, including photosynthesis; about membranes and their excitation; and about biological movement and its control. That last topic leads to a treatment of higher brain function, the focus of the author’s current research. Cotterill even offers an illuminating discussion of consciousness and free will, topics that are rarely, if ever, seen in books on biophysics.

Biophysics is not an in-depth treatment of a few subjects but a broad introductory survey text—from atom to Adam. It is based on a course Cotterill taught for many years at the Technical University of Denmark in Lyngby. The treatment is concise, balanced, and readable. Each chapter includes exercises and suggestions for further reading. Added material, including solutions to exercises, can be found on the author’s Web site. The book is worth considering as a text for an introductory course for undergraduates.