How an Equation from Physiology Can Become a Model

  • James L. Hargrove
Part of the Modeling Dynamic Systems book series (MDS)


Students taking a first course in physiology or biochemistry encounter certain equations very early that typically evince a foreboding, if not outright terror. Memorable examples include the Nernst equation and the Henderson-Hasselbach equation; one remembers the encounter, not the content. And there were more to come: Poiseuille’s law of fluid flow and Michaelis-Menten kinetics, the Gibbs-Donnan equilibrium; one could go on endlessly. Let me confess something right now: I knew the feeling of terror just as much as the next student, because I was never sure how to take a logarithm of a sodium concentration, or whether the intracellular concentration of ion was divided by the extracellular concentration or vice-versa, or why the electrical potential was negative and the action potential was depolarizing.


Sodium Concentration Rest Membrane Potential Nernst Equation Potassium Conductance Sodium Conductance 
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  3. Hodgkin, A.L., and A.F. Huxley. “A quantitative description of membrane current and its application to conduction and excitation in nerve.” J. Physiol. (London, 1952) 117:500–544.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • James L. Hargrove
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Foods and NutritionUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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