Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo / Portale Web di Ateneo


A.Y. Credits
2020/2021 6
Lecturer Email Office hours for students
Andrea Viceré By appointment with the teacher
Teaching in foreign languages
Course with optional materials in a foreign language English
This course is entirely taught in Italian. Study materials can be provided in the foreign language and the final exam can be taken in the foreign language.

Assigned to the Degree Course

Nutritional Science (L-29)
Date Time Classroom / Location
Date Time Classroom / Location

Learning Objectives

To acquire the basic elements of Physics through its fundamental laws using the most important physical quantities. To acquire enough expertise in treating in a quantitative way problems in energetics and in the field of transformation (especially from a thermodynamic point of view) for compounds of interest in nutrition and food.
More specifically the learning objectives include

  • the ability to use the International System of Measuring Units;
  • the knowledge of the main physics laws concerning the mechanics of the point mass and of the rigid body, the statics and dynamics of fluids, the thermodynamics, the electrostatics, the electrodynamics and magnetism;
  • the capacity to outline a physical system and to analyse qualitative its behaviour;
  • the ability to analyse a system in a quantitative way, for instance in terms of forces or energy and momentum conservation;
  • the capacity to formulate and solve simple physics problems;
  • the ability to express in a scientifically correct language the properties and behaviour of physical systems.


1. Units
1.1 International system of units
1.2 Length, angle, time and mass units
1.3 Dimensional analysis, change of units

2. Scalars and vectors
2.1 Geometric, analytic definitions
2.2 Addition, subtraction of vectors
2.3 Scalar product of vectors, modulus

3. Point mass kinematics
3.1 Displacement as a vector
3.2 Velocity and acceleration
3.3 Uniform and accelerated rectilinear motion
3.4 Uniform circular motion: angular velocity, centripetal acceleration

4 Point mass dynamics
4.1 Law of inertia
4.2 Newton's second law
4.3 Force and acceleration, the concept of mass
4.4 Action and reaction
4.5 Example of forces: gravitational force, elastic force

5 Work and kinetic energy
5.1 Mechanical work 
5.2 Kinetic energy in translational and rotational motions
5.3 Kinetic energy theorem

6 Potential energy, energy conservation
6.1 Gravitational potential
6.2 Inclined plane
6.3 Conservative forces
6.4 Mechanical energy

7 Systems of point masses
7.1 Internal and external forces
7.2 Centre of mass
7.3 Rotational kinetic energy, momentum of inertia
7.4 Angular momentum

8 Fluid statics
8.1 Density and pressure
8.2 Water-based, mercury-based barometers
8.3 Atmospheric and blood pressure
8.4 Pascal's principle, Stevin's law
8.5 Archimedes' principle

9 Fluid dynamics
9.1 Ideal fluids
9.2 Flow lines, continuity equation
9.3 Bernoulli's equation, Venturi effect
9.4 Real fluids: viscosity, capillarity, surface tension

10 Heat and temperature
10.1 Temperature as a measure of thermal motion
10.2 Heat spontaneous flow and temperature
10.3 Thermometric scales: Celsius, Kelvin. The "absolute zero" concept.
10.4 Heat transmission: conduction, convention and radiation

11 Ideal gases
11.1 State variables
11.2 Equation of state of perfect gases: Boltzmann constant
11.3 Avogadro's number, universal gas constant
11.4 Elements of kinetic theory of gases: pressure, temperature and kinetic energy

12 Thermal energy, and the first principle of thermodynamics
12.1 Generalizations of the principle of energy conservation
12.2 Energia interna dei corpi in termini dell'energia delle molecole
12.3 Thermodynamic transformations
12.4 First principle of thermodynamics: heat, work and thermal energy balance
12.5 Thermal and energetic output of glucids and lipids
12.6 Enthalpy

13 The second principle of thermodynamics: order and disorder
13.1 Reversible and irreversible transformations
13.2 Order and disorder: entropy
13.3 Energy output in biochemical cycles
13.4 Il II principio negli enunciati di Kelvin e Clausius
13.5 Spontaneous transformations: the Gibbs free energy

14 Electrostatics
14.1 Electric charge
14.2 Coulomb's law
14.3 Electric field
14.4 Point charge field
14.5 Electric dipole
14.6 Gauss' law
14.7 Dielectrics e polarization

15 Electrostatic potential
15.1 Electric potential energy
15.2 Electrostatic potential, potential difference
15.3 Potential in a central and in a uniform field
15.4 Battery as a source of potential difference

16 Electric current
16.1 Conduttori e isolanti
16.2 Electric current density in a conductor
16.3 Resistance and Ohm's law
16.4 Joule effect

17 Magnetic field
17.1 Field of permanent magnets
17.2 Magnetic field due to a current running through a wire
17.3 Ampère's law
17.4 Solenoidal magnetic field
17.5 Lorentz's force on a electrict charge
17.6 Motion of a charge in a magnetic field
17.7 Mass spectrometer

Bridging Courses

The student should have acquired the mathematical competences made available by the course "Medical statistics with elements of mathematics"

Learning Achievements (Dublin Descriptors)

Knowledge and understanding: the student will know the main laws of Pjhysics, particularly in the fields of point mass mechanics, of the mechanics of the rigid body and of the fluids. The student will know the fundamental elements of thermodynamics, and will possess basic knowledge of electrostatic and magnetism.
Applying knowledge and understanding: the student will be in position to apply the laws of Physics to real problems, and to solve them both in a qualitative and quantitative way.
Making judgements: the students will be able to assess the plausibility of a result, both on the basis of correct units, and by means of analogical reasoning and scientific sense.
Communication skills: the student will acquire a correct scientific language, which includes the appropriate use of the units..
Learning skills: the student will be able to expand his/her knowledge on specific topics, not discussed in the course, by means of non-specialistic scientific texts.

Teaching Material

The teaching material prepared by the lecturer in addition to recommended textbooks (such as for instance slides, lecture notes, exercises, bibliography) and communications from the lecturer specific to the course can be found inside the Moodle platform › blended.uniurb.it

Supporting Activities

Course slides.

Teaching, Attendance, Course Books and Assessment


Frontal lessons


Attending the course is not a requirement, but it is strongly recommended.

Course books

Choose one out of the two following textbooks:

  • Burns D. & MacDonald G., Physics for biology and pre-medical students, Addison Wesley
  • Halliday, Resnick, Walker, Fundamentals of Physics, 7th edition, Wiley

It is not required to study the whole textbook, but to select relevant chapters and sections on the basis of the detailed course syllabus.


Written test, which requires to solve simple exercises on the programme, followed by an oral exam.
The vote on the written test, in thirthiets, results from the number of correct exercises.
It is required to obtain at least 16/30 on the written test to be admitted to the oral exam.
The oral exam requires answering a few questions on the theory, and contributes to the overall vote (again, in thirthiets) indicatively with 5 points to be added or subtracted to the vote obtained in the written test.

Disability and Specific Learning Disorders (SLD)

Students who have registered their disability certification or SLD certification with the Inclusion and Right to Study Office can request to use conceptual maps (for keywords) during exams.

To this end, it is necessary to send the maps, two weeks before the exam date, to the course instructor, who will verify their compliance with the university guidelines and may request modifications.

Additional Information for Non-Attending Students


The students not attending the course have access to the course slides on the Moodle platform.


The same

Course books

The same


The same

Disability and Specific Learning Disorders (SLD)

Students who have registered their disability certification or SLD certification with the Inclusion and Right to Study Office can request to use conceptual maps (for keywords) during exams.

To this end, it is necessary to send the maps, two weeks before the exam date, to the course instructor, who will verify their compliance with the university guidelines and may request modifications.


The following mathematical concepts will be used during the course and should be known to the students

Geometry: straight line, half-line, segments, angles, right-angled triangle, Pythagoras' theorem. Circle, circumference and area.
Cartesian reference system: coordinates to locate a point in two and three dimensions
Trigonometry: sine and cosine (sin,cos) functions, relationship between hypothenuse and catheti in a right-angled triangle.
Functions: exponential and logarithm
Algebra: first and second degree equations with one unknown. Systems of first degree equations with two unknowns.

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