POSTECH News

Professor Emeritus Wokyung Sung publishes the first graduate level textbook on statistical physics for biological matter

2018-12-17 183

Statistical physics is a branch of physics that uses mathematical tools for dealing with large populations and approximations, such as probability theory and statistics, to solve physical problems. As such, it has allowed researchers to explain and quantitatively describe complex topics such as superconductivity, superfluidity, and turbulence.

A typical statistical physics course covers ideal gases (classical and quantum) and interacting units of simple structures. However, as the simplest of biological fluids are solutions of macromolecules, and hence, extremely complex, there is a chasm of available content to train the burgeoning young researchers of this field.

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Professor Emeritus Wokyung Sung, a renowned expert in the fields of statistical physics and biological physics for over 30 years, recently published Statistical Physics for Biological Matter—the first graduate level textbook to bridge this chasm. The textbook aims to cover a broad range of topics in the field, including statistical mechanics (equilibrium and non-equilibrium), soft matter, and fluid physics for applications to biological phenomena at both cellular and macromolecular levels. The major topics covered include thermodynamics, soft matter physics of polymers and membranes, and hydrodynamics. Methods and theories are described with detailed derivations, followed by applications and examples in biology—all based on Professor Sung’s lectures at POSTECH.

Professor Sung’s illustrious career spans decades of excellence working with a variety of biological matter and processes at the mesoscopic level using statistical physics of soft matter and stochastic phenomena. His breakthrough in pioneering the theory of polymer translocation through membranes brought about an entirely new field in biological/polymer physics.