Brushing up on my Biology

In three weeks time, the Pre-liminary exams for this semester will take place meaning that starting tomorrow, things inside the classrooms and the laboratories would shift to a more serious mode and pace. The struggle between academics and extra-curricular work will up a notch, oh my.

Just last Monday, I took my very first long examination for Histology class. Though the exam was quite easy, I failed to find enough time to review my notes and books because in between classes, I’m immersed with extra-curricular work and even if I did managed to have more time to review, I needed not only to review my notes on Histology but also about basic Biology because some essential Biological terms and processes have been erased or lost deep within the archives of my half-life memory. So the end result wasn’t something to be happy about.

Not wanting to take this sitting down, I decided to dust off my Biology books and notes and re familiarize my self with some of the fundamental and basic knowledge and understanding of Biological terms and concepts, that are the foundation and key to getting through Histology class with good grades.

Biology textIt’s only been 4 years since I dealt with basic Biology back in my freshman years and though I’m majoring in Human Biology, my difficulty in performing well in Histology class this semester is but another sign that I’ve been spending too much time and money on those Humanities and Social Science books.

So this afternoon, I dug up one of the biggest and heaviest books from my shelves, Biological Sciences 6th Edition by James L. Gould and William T. Keeton. The book weighs a ton and now the once grayish paper has turned rather fragile and yellow a testament to the years it has been idle in my bookshelf. It sure brought back some memories.

Moving on, among the things that I really like about this particular Biology book is that Evolutionary biology is at the core of the entire book. Anti-evolutionists may be irked by this but I’ll just be straight and honest with this, I do believe in evolution. (The comment thread is open by the way πŸ˜‰ )

Another good thing about this book is that it espouses integrated Biology; biochemistry, botany, cell biology, microbiology, zoology and ecology are all in the text which is complemented by a rich selection of photos, illustrations and other tools that help in achieving a practical and working grasp of Biology.

Reading the first chapter, I was reintroduced with the Scientific Method. Surprise was among the keywords that got stuck in my mind when I reading the said chapter. I never thought I’d forget about the steps involved in the Scientific method!

You know the process in which we come up with our hypothesis; an educated guess or assumption about some phenomena we can observe. We then do some more observation and then test our hypothesis through experiments. The results or data we obtain from this are then analyzed, these then would either prove or disprove the hypothesis we started with.

The conclusions then become theories and laws of science. The difference between scientific laws and the common laws is that according to James Gould and William Keeton;

natural laws are descriptive rather than prescriptive; they do not say how things should be, but instead how things are and probably will be.

Continuing on, one fundamental question hit me as if an elephant grew wings and landed on my head. “What is life?” 😯

Dictionaries would define it as the property that distinguishes the living from the dead. Asked to define dead and you’d be told that it is being deprived of life. Clearly these definitions are getting us no where as far as answering the first question is concerned. This is so difficult because life is not just a separable, definable entity or property.

So how do we answer such question? We could by comparing living things from non-living things as explained in the book. Certainly all living things from bacteria to humans to the blue whale all have the following:

  • all are chemically complex and highly organized
  • all use energy
  • organize themselves or develop
  • all reproduce

If one is missing then that entity is not a living thing. Robots no matter at their present stage of development still do not possess this attributes the reason as to why would be for another story.

This is just scratching the surface on what Biology has to offer in teaching us, helping us understand life, ourselves and getting me through Histology class. No matter how long this journey would be though, it is certainly going to be a fun and enlightening ride. ‘Till next time!

One Comment

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