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The mechanics of breathing has always been a difficult topic for some medical and graduate students. The subject is very quantitative and contains a number of concepts that some students have trouble with, including physical principles such as pressure, flow, volume, resistance, elasticity, and compliance. Apparently, present-day students find the subject more difficult than students of 20 years ago. A possible reason for this is that the teaching of elementary physics in high school and college is now given less emphasis, whereas other topics, such as molecular biology, receive a great deal of attention. Another factor may be that many of us grew up building radios and other such devices, whereas modern students tend to plug in an electronic unit with little idea of its function. Some examples of misconceptions of present-day students who have taken our course are given. To help the weaker students, we now include a primer at the beginning of our handout for the course that covers simple physical principles. Examples of some of the most difficult concepts for students are given.
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