outcome of countless random experiments, resulting in the exquisite
complexity of the biological world of which we are a part. Setting aside any
philosophical considerations, living organisms – including ourselves – are
simply nothing more than wet, floppy bags of chemistry: complicated
mixtures of molecules interacting in a multitude of ways. All this takes place
mainly in water, a solvent that most chemists try to avoid because of its
complexities. However, we can learn from this. In the course of evolution,
biology has had the opportunity to perform vastly more experiments than we
can ever contemplate in the laboratory. The resulting chemistry is fascinating
in its own right, and we can quite rightly study it for its intellectual satisfaction
alone. We can also, if we choose, apply what we learn to other areas of
chemistry and to its applications in biomedical and environmental areas.
This book is about the physical chemistry of biological macromolecules and
how we can study it. The approach here is unashamedly experimental: this is
the way science actually works, and in any case we do not yet have the rigorous
theoretical understanding perhaps found in more mature areas of chemistry.
This is what makes it a fun topic, and why it poses fascinating challenges for
both theoretical and experimental scientists.
The level adopted in this tutorial text should be suitable for early
undergraduate years in chemical or physical sciences. However, since this
interdisciplinary topic is often postponed to later years, the book will also act
as a basis for more advanced study. Students in other areas of biological
sciences might also appreciate the less intimidating approach to physical
chemistry that I have attempted here.