We explain what biology is, its history and what are the branches that make it up. In addition, its characteristics and fundamental principles.
What is Biology?
Biology (from the Greek bíos , “life” and logía , “ science , knowledge”) is called a branch of exact sciences whose object of study is living beings : their origin, evolution, growth, reproduction and their various mechanisms. of existence
It can be said that biology empirically studies the very foundations of life to find the rules that explain it and that allow us to understand it more deeply.
Thus, biologists study the similarities and differences between the various forms of known life, throughout the various kingdoms of their classification.
Today biology is one of the largest and most diverse fields of knowledge and scientific work, which is nurtured and at the same time collaborates with other branches of science such as chemistry , physics or medicine.
history of biology
Biology proper will emerge with the invention of the scientific method .
Biology as an independent field of study did not always exist, since in ancient times its fields of interest were the subject of philosophy , which attempted to decipher the laws of life (and the world) through pure reasoning, rather than experimentation.
Biology itself will emerge with the invention of science and the scientific method , a series of empirical and verifiable steps to deduce the laws of nature.
Origin of the term Biology
The term “biology” was coined in 1800 and is attributed to Karl Friedrich Burdach, although there are some mentions prior to the date.
Marine biology studies the life forms found in the sea.
Contemporary biology has diversified a great deal, which is why it consists of numerous branches dedicated to the study of a specific type of living beings or a specific type of vital ecosystem or specific biological themes. Some examples can be:
- Zoology . Dedicated to the specific study of the animal kingdom.
- Botany. He limits his study to the kingdom of plants , algae and certain types of bacteria that carry out photosynthesis.
- Microbiology. Responsible for the study of microscopic life .
- Parasitology. Interested only in animals that survive at the expense of benefiting from others.
- Genetics . Study of life from the perspective of the transmission of biological information and heredity.
- Biochemistry. It delves into the chemical and molecular functioning of the bodies of living beings and the substances they generate.
- Marine biology. Specific study of those forms of life found only in the sea .
- Biotechnology. Study of the laws of life for pragmatic purposes of industrial or technological use.
- Virology. Branch devoted entirely to the study of viruses .
principles of biology
Life is a continuous process of change that pushes species to evolve.
All biology is governed by the following precepts based on which we human beings scientifically understand the phenomenon of life:
- Universality. All known forms of life share certain common precepts, such as being made up of cells , or requiring genetic information to bequeath to future generations and even the impulse to nurture, grow and reproduce.
- Evolution. Life is a continuous process of change that pushes species to compete and evolve, that is, to adapt better and better to the environment through physical and biochemical changes inherited to future generations to perpetuate the species (or become extinct).
- Diversity. Life on our planet is diverse and colorful, so there are numerous animal and plant species and the various kingdoms in which life is classified.
- Continuity. Life is understood as a continuous process that involves the living beings of the present and their direct heirs to come. This means that life has changed along a long chain of time , from 3.5 billion years ago to today.
- Homeostasis. This is the name given to the principle according to which life always strives to adapt as best as possible to changes in the environment and the environment, maintaining a dynamic balance of temperature , pH and the presence of chemical elements .
- Interaction. Life cannot occur in isolation, but is always part of a larger system, in which relationships of competition, solidarity and predation are produced, which makes biotic systems (ecosystems) difficult to study.
Biology collaborates closely with other sciences and disciplines, such as: biochemistry (biology and chemistry), biophysics (biology and physics) , biotechnology (biology and various engineering, agriculture or livestock), astrobiology (biology and astronomy ) , biomedicine (biology and medicine), etc.
importance of biology
Biology provides solutions to improve the quality of life.
Biology as a science allows us to approach life and its complex processes with more knowledge , either to understand what exactly life is and know how to look for it in other places (other planets, for example) or to be able to care for it and protect it from our own excesses .
In addition, this science provides theoretical and practical material to numerous other scientific disciplines , thanks to which our quality of life can be improved, diseases can be combated, etc.
classification of life
Plants photosynthesize and provide themselves with food from water and sunlight.
One of the central tasks of biology seems to be the classification and description of living beings, for which there is a system of kingdoms (proposed by Carlos Linnaeus in the eighteenth century and reworked since then several times) that distinguishes between:
- Animals . Capable of moving at will, they breathe and require the intake of organic matter to survive. They always reproduce sexually.
- Plants . Capable of photosynthesizing and providing themselves with food from water and sunlight , they are immobile and reproduce sexually and asexually.
- mushrooms . Similar in cellular structure to plants, they require the decomposition of organic matter to survive, they are immobile and reproduce by means of spores.
- Protists. Beings that cannot be classified in the previous three, but that share with them their type of cell ( eukaryote , that is, with a nucleus ). They are unicellular and multicellular.
- bacteria . Together with the archaea, they form the domain of prokaryotes , that is, cells without a defined nucleus. Bacteria are microscopic, some pathogenic (infectious) and others photosynthetic, and they are the most numerous form of life on the planet .
- archae. Very simple unicellular organisms that constitute both a kingdom and a domain (depending on the classification) since they have a very different evolutionary history from bacteria, being closer to eukaryotes in terms of biochemistry and metabolism.
A biological discipline studies the simple structures of life such as cells.
Given the broad subject matter of biology, it is organized into four sets of disciplines, which are:
- The study of the simple structures of life: cells, genes, etc.
- The study of the complex structures of life: tissues, organs, bodies , etc.
- The study of organisms and their life histories: their development, growth, and life processes.
- The study of life as a system of interactions: ecosystems, communities , etc.
Many questions are being asked today regarding the future of this science, which seems to allow us an ever greater degree of interference in life as such.
While some point to a more responsible, wise and informed exercise of biology, there are many theories and representations of dystopian futures in which man has paid the price for manipulating genetics and the laws of biology.
The scientific method is based on observation to create hypotheses.
As stated at the beginning, biology uses the scientific method and its principles of observation , measurement, controlled reproduction in the laboratory and formulation of experimental hypotheses, for the study of life forms . What does not resort to this systemic and verifiable method, simply, is not biology.
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