What Is Biology? | Dwell Science


Biology is the examine of life. The phrase “biology” is derived from the Greek phrases “bios” (that means life) and “logos” (that means “examine”). On the whole, biologists examine the construction, operate, progress, origin, evolution and distribution of residing organisms.

Biology is necessary as a result of it helps us perceive how residing issues work and the way they operate and work together on a number of ranges, in keeping with the Encyclopedia Britannica. Advances in biology have helped scientists do issues akin to develop higher medicines and coverings for illnesses, perceive how a altering setting would possibly have an effect on crops and animals, produce sufficient meals for a rising human inhabitants and predict how consuming new meals or sticking to an train routine would possibly have an effect on our our bodies.

The fundamental rules of contemporary biology

4 rules unify trendy biology, in keeping with the e-book “Managing Science” (Springer New York, 2010): 

  1. Cell concept is the precept that every one residing issues are fabricated from basic items referred to as cells, and all cells come from preexisting cells.
  2. Gene concept is the precept that every one residing issues have DNA, molecules that code the buildings and capabilities of cells and get handed to offspring.
  3. Homeostasis is the precept that every one residing issues keep a state of stability that allows organisms to outlive of their setting.
  4. Evolution is the precept that describes how all residing issues can change to have traits that allow them to outlive higher of their environments. These traits consequence from random mutations within the organism’s genes which might be “chosen” through a course of referred to as pure choice. Throughout pure choice, organisms which have traits better-suited for his or her setting have greater charges of survival, after which go these traits to their offspring.

The numerous branches of biology

Though there are solely 4 unifying rules, biology covers a broad vary of subjects which might be  damaged into many disciplines and subdisciplines.

On a excessive stage, the totally different fields of biology can every be regarded as the examine of 1 kind of organism, in keeping with “Blackie’s Dictionary of Biology” (S Chand, 2014). For instance, zoology is the examine of animals, botany is the examine of crops and microbiology is the examine of microorganisms.

Associated: Plant images: Wonderful botanical pictures by Karl Blossfeldt

Inside these broader fields, many biologists concentrate on researching a particular subject or drawback. For instance, a scientist could examine habits of a sure fish species, whereas one other scientist could analysis the neurological and chemical mechanisms behind the habits.

There are quite a few branches and subdisciplines of biology, however here’s a brief listing of a few of the extra broad fields that fall underneath the umbrella of biology: 

  • Biochemistry: The examine of the chemical processes that happen in or are associated to residing issues, in keeping with the Biochemical Society. For instance, pharmacology is a sort of biochemistry analysis that focuses on learning how medication work together with chemical substances within the physique, as described in a 2010 evaluate within the journal Biochemistry. 
  • Ecology: The examine of how organisms work together with their setting. For instance, an ecologist could examine how honeybee habits is affected by people residing close by.
  • Genetics: The examine of heredity. Geneticists examine how genes are handed down by mother and father to their offspring, and the way they range from individual to individual. For instance, scientists have recognized a number of genes and genetic mutations that affect human lifespan, as reported in a 2019 evaluate printed within the journal Nature Opinions Genetics.   
  • Physiology: The examine of how residing issues work. Physiology, which is relevant to any residing organism, “offers with the life-supporting capabilities and processes of residing organisms or their elements,” in keeping with Nature. Physiologists search to grasp organic processes, akin to how a selected organ works, what its operate is and the way it’s affected by outdoors stimuli. For instance, physiologists have studied how listening to music may cause bodily adjustments within the human physique, akin to a slower or sooner coronary heart fee. 

A botanist is a biologist who research crops.  (Picture credit score: Shutterstock)

The multidisciplinary nature of biology

Biology is usually researched along side different fields of examine, together with arithmetic, engineering and the social sciences. Listed below are a couple of examples:

  • Astrobiology is the examine of the evolution of life within the universe, together with the seek for extraterrestrial life, in keeping with NASA. This area incorporates rules of biology with astronomy. 
  • Bioarchaeologists are biologists who incorporate archaeological methods to check skeletal stays and derive insights about how individuals lived prior to now, in keeping with George Mason College.
  • Bioengineering is the applying of engineering rules to biology and vice versa, in keeping with the College of California Berkeley. For instance, a bioengineer would possibly develop a brand new medical expertise that higher pictures the within of the physique, like an improved MRI that scans the human physique at a sooner fee and better decision, or apply organic information to create synthetic organs.
  • Biotechnology entails utilizing organic techniques to develop merchandise, in keeping with the Norwegian College of Science and Expertise. For instance, biotechnologists in Russia genetically engineered a better-tasting and extra disease-resistant strawberry, which the researchers described of their 2007 examine printed within the journal Biotechnology and Sustainable Agriculture 2006 and Past.  
  • Biophysics employs the rules of physics to grasp how organic techniques work, in keeping with the Biophysical Society. For instance, biophysicists could examine how genetic mutations resulting in adjustments in protein construction impacts protein evolution.

What do biologists do?

Biologists can work in many alternative fields, together with analysis, healthcare, environmental conservation and artwork, in keeping with the American Institute of Organic Sciences. Listed below are a couple of examples:

  • Analysis: Biologists can carry out analysis in lots of sorts of settings. Microbiologists, as an example, could examine bacterial cultures in a laboratory setting. Different biologists could carry out area analysis, the place they observe animals or crops of their native habitat. Many biologists may match within the lab and within the area — for instance, scientists could acquire soil or water samples from the sphere and analyze them additional within the  lab, like at North Carolina College’s Soil and Water Lab.
  • Healthcare: Individuals who examine biology can go on to work in healthcare, whether or not they work as docs or nurses, be a part of a pharmaceutical firm to develop new medication and vaccines, analysis the efficacy of medical remedies or turn out to be veterinarians to assist deal with sick animals, in keeping with the American Institute of Organic Sciences.
  • Conservation: Biologists may help with efforts in environmental conservation by learning and figuring out the right way to defend and preserve the pure world for the longer term. For instance, biologists could assist educate the general public on the significance of preserving an animal’s pure habitat and take part in endangered species restoration applications to cease the decline of an endangered species, in keeping with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
  • Artwork: Biologists who even have a background in artwork have each the technical information and inventive talent to create visuals that may talk advanced organic data to all kinds of audiences. One instance of that is in medical illustration, through which an illustrator could carry out background analysis, collaborate with consultants, and observe a medical process to create an correct visible of a physique half, in keeping with the Affiliation of Medical Illustrators.

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