The Science of Biology

The Science of Biology

Introduction

 What is biology? In simple terms, biology is the study of living organisms and their interactions with one another and their environments. This is a very broad definition because the scope of biology is vast. Biologists may study anything from the microscopic or submicroscopic view of a cell to ecosystems and the whole living planet (Figure 1.2). Listening to the daily news, you will quickly realize how many aspects of biology are discussed every day. For example, recent news topics include Escherichia coli (Figure 1.3) outbreaks in spinach and Salmonella contamination in peanut butter. Other subjects include efforts toward finding a cure for AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. On a global scale, many researchers are committed to finding ways to protect the planet, solve environmental issues, and reduce the effects of climate change. All of these diverse endeavors are related to different facets of the discipline of biology.

Figure 1.2.  Formerly called blue-green algae, these (a) cyanobacteria, shown here at 300x magnification under a light microscope, are some of Earth’s oldest life forms. credit a: modification of work by NASA
Figure 1.2.  Formerly called blue-green algae, these (a) cyanobacteria, shown here at 300x magnification under a light microscope, are some of Earth’s oldest life forms. credit a: modification of work by NASA
These (b) stromatolites along the shores of Lake Thetis in Western Australia are ancient structures formed by the layering of cyanobacteria in shallow waters. credit b: modification of work by Ruth Ellison
These (b) stromatolites along the shores of Lake Thetis in Western Australia are ancient structures formed by the layering of cyanobacteria in shallow waters. credit b: modification of work by Ruth Ellison
Figure 1.3. Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, seen in this scanning electron micrograph, are normal residents of our digestive tracts that aid in the absorption of vitamin K and other nutrients. However, virulent strains are sometimes responsible for disease outbreaks.
Figure 1.3. Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, seen in this scanning electron micrograph, are normal residents of our digestive tracts that aid in the absorption of vitamin K and other nutrients. However, virulent strains are sometimes responsible for disease outbreaks.

 

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