“Biology is defined as the study of living organisms, their origins, anatomy, morphology, physiology, behaviour, and distribution.”
Life is teeming in every corner of the world – from the frozen Arctics to the searing Sahara. And with over 8.7 million species documented till date, the world is that the only planet within the universe where life is understood to exist.
Advancements in technology have opened even more insights about life and its constituents. For instance, discoveries such as viruses have scrutinized traditional definitions and pushed scientists to look at life from a whole new perspective.
Biology - In Detail
Branches of Biology
Biology caters to those intriguing aspects through various sub-disciplines or branches. Some branches are intertwined with other disciplines of science.
For instance, theoretical biology may be a branch of biology that encompasses mathematical models to research certain principles that affect life.
Quantum Biology deals with biological processes that are quantum mechanical in nature – such as the conversion of energy into more usable forms. Other branches of biology are as follows:
Divisions of Biology
Biology can be divided into the following branches -
Important Topics in Biology
Human Biology - The human body is an amazing system as it is made up of a group of organs called the organ system.
Macromolecules - Food provides the body with the nutrients it needs to survive. Many of those critical nutrients are biological macromolecules, or large molecules, necessary for all times. Four main types of macromolecules such as proteins, carbohydrates, nucleic acids and lipids control all activities.
Energy and Enzymes - Several chemical reactions are taking place in the body of a living organism, and surprisingly all of them are mediated by enzymes.
Structure of a Cell - All the living organisms that exist in this whole universe – like mushrooms, plants, humans, elephants, etc. is made from lots and many cells!
Membranes and Transport - A cell is the structural and functional working unit of life and also has been described as building blocks and fundamental units of an organism. The term cell was coined by an English scientist Robert Hooke in the year 1665. The shape and size of the cells vary consistently with their functions and compositions. There are different types of cells and can be differentiated based on the presence and absence of few cell organelles.
Cellular Respiration - Respiration is one of the essential processes carried out by all living organisms to survive. Explore more about how it extracts energy from food for the human body? How respiration occurs at the cellular level, its types and much more.
Photosynthesis - Photosynthesis may be a process by which phototrophs convert light energy into energy, which is later wont to fuel cellular activities. The energy is stored within the sort of sugars, which are created from water and CO2.
Cell Division - Cell division happens when a parent cell divides into two or more cells called daughter cells. Cell division usually occurs as part of a larger cell cycle. All cells reproduce by splitting into two, where each parental cell gives rise to 2 daughter cells.
History of Biology
Origin of the Term “Biology”.
Before the term biology was adapted, other terms existed which described the study of plants and animals. For instance, the term Natural History was used to explain animals, plants, fungi and other lifeforms in their natural environment.
Furthermore, it was observational rather than an experimental field of study. Hence, a person who would study natural history is termed as a natural historian or a naturalist. Other terms that came before biology included theology and physics.
The term “Biology”, in the modern sense, was introduced through the works of Michael Christoph Hanow in 1766. However, it was introduced independently four more times through the works of Thomas Beddoes (1799), Karl Friedrich Burdach (1800), Gottfried Reinhold Treviranus (1802), and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1802).
Origins as a Field of Study
For the very first humans, knowledge about plants and animals meant the difference between life or death. As a result, cumulative knowledge about species, behavior, and anatomy was passed down for many generations.
However, the foremost significant development in biological knowledge came when humans transitioned from hunters and foragers to farmers, cultivating crops and perfecting agriculture.
Traditions of drugs, collective knowledge from physicians, works of prominent historical figures like Aristotle eventually coalesced into the sector of study we all know today as biology.
The most significant revolutions in biology came during the 19th century, with a host of discoveries and technological innovations.