By googling this keyword: "theoretical biology" and physics, I get many interesting pages, such as:

All pages I found mostly (or only, if I remember correctly) focus on the advantages of the physicists are their math background and being a neophyte so sometimes able to bring fresh perspectives to a problem. But that means a mathematician is also adequate to this.

My undergraduate dissertation is about biophysics, so I actually know that there are things that a physicist can help in biology. But mostly I see them in molecular biology. What else can physicists actually help with given their background?

  • 4
    I don't think this is on topic for this SE; the question concerns the subject matter of persons within academia, not academia itself. Your question is not as technical, but it is analogous to asking something like, 'how can the path integral be used in stochastic calculus?' to give an example in the case of physics and finance.
    – JNS
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 17:52
  • 4
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about the content of research, rather than its process (per the help centre).
    – Davidmh
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 19:31
  • 1
    FWIW this would not be on topic on Physics.
    – David Z
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 21:13
  • 1
    Definitely not on a meta site either, since it's not a question about a Stack Exchange site. I couldn't say about Biology, though; I don't know their scope.
    – David Z
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 23:00
  • 1
    @Ooker I don't know. The reason this question is off topic here and on Physics is not that it's bad. So I don't think anyone is saying it needs to be improved at all. It's simply outside the scope of the sites.
    – David Z
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


One important contribution of physics to many areas is that physics is the origin of much of our understanding of complex systems phenomena, including emergence, chaotic systems, network effects, and phase transitions. Many areas of biology are still trapped in a hyper-reductionist framework (e.g., is FOXP2 the gene for speech) rather than realizing that such questions are poorly framed. Many biologists are embracing systems thinking, but the tools of physics are still not very widely dispersed overall, and collaboration that brings together such expertise with biological expertise (non-biologists are often frightfully naive about many realities of biology) can be of great value.

There are many other possibilities too, but this is a very important category that I think may be a good start...

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .