What is biology? Concept, History, Importance and Branches

What is biology?

We explain what biology is and what its history is. In addition, the importance, auxiliary sciences and branches of biology.

What is biology

Biology comes from the Greek: bios, “life” and lodge, “science, knowledge”.

Biology (whose name comes from the Greek: bios, “life” and logia, “science, knowledge”) is one of the Natural Sciences, and its object of study includes the different forms and dynamics of life: its origin, evolution, and the processes proper to living beings: nutrition, growth, reproduction and their various possible mechanisms of existence.

Thus, biology proposes the empirical study and limited to the scientific method of the foundations of life, wanting to find the norms that regulate it and the processes that determine its dynamics.

That’s why biologists are dedicated to studying the similarities and differences between species, and to ordering them into different “realms” of classification, which they are:

  • Animal kingdom. Those heterotrophic beings endowed with movement, which obtain energy through breathing.
  • Plant kingdom. Those autotrophic and immobile beings that obtain their energy generally from the use of sunlight (photosynthesis) or other chemical sources (chemosynthesis).
  • Kingdom of mushrooms. Intermediate step between animals and vegetables, they are heterotrophic and immobile beings, who take advantage of the available organic matter to feed themselves.
  • Protista kingdom. The set of microscopic beings from which the three previous kingdoms come, with which they share cellular characteristics (eucariogenesis, i.e. cells with nuclei).
  • Bacterial kingdom. They form the simplest group of unicellular life forms, together with the archeas, being prokaryotic organisms (cells without nucleus). They are the most abundant form of life on the planet.
  • Kingdom of the Archaeas. With a different evolutionary history of bacteria, they are very simple and primitive unicellular prokaryotes, but closer in metabolism and other functions to eukaryotes.

History of biology

Human beings have always been intrigued by their origins and by what distinguished them from the other animals that populate the world. Naturalism and medical traditions date back to ancient Egypt and Greece, although they were based on mystical or religious interpretations of reality.

The term “biology” comes from the nineteenth century, a consequence of the Scientific Revolutions and the Age of Reason, and is attributed to Karl Friedrich Burdach, although there are previous mentions.

But it is then that it arises as an independent and separate study of philosophy; not as in antiquity, when it was attempted to obtain truth by pure reasoning instead of experimentation.

The discovery of evolution and genetics, with the studies of Darwin and Mendel, respectively, at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, would lead biology to its modern stage and more similar to the one we understand today.

Importance of biology

  1. Biology helps us to understand, value and take care of life.
  2. Biology is an important discipline because through it we can unveil the mysteries of life as we know it, including its origin (and our own) and the laws that underlie it. In this way, we will be able to understand exactly what life is and we will be able to look for it in other planets, and we will also be able to value it and take care of it in our own.
  3. On the other hand, this science provides theoretical and practical inputs to many other scientific disciplines, thanks to which diseases can be fought and our quality of life improved.

Branches of biology

Contemporary biology has a very high level of diversification, reflected in its numerous branches, according to the specific type of living beings and/or ecosystems of interest, or the perspective it adopts with respect to them:

  • Zoology. The specific study of the animal kingdom in its different variants and levels.
  • Botany. The study of the vegetable kingdom: plants, trees, algae and some other photosynthetic forms.
  • Microbiology. That which focuses its study on microscopic life, which cannot be seen with the naked eye.
  • Parasitology. He is interested in animals that survive at the expense of other living things, harming them as they invade their organisms.
  • Genetics. He focuses his study of life on the laws of biological information transmission and generational inheritance.
  • Biochemistry. It has to do with the chemical and molecular processes of living beings and the substances they generate.
  • Marine biology. It limits its study to life forms found in oceans and coasts.
  • Biotechnology. Understanding biological laws with a view to their industrial or technological exploitation: biological pesticides, organic fertilizers, etc.
  • Systematic. It deals with the classification of species of known living beings, from the understanding of their evolutionary history or phylogenetics.

Auxiliary sciences

Biology is part of other sciences and disciplines, such as biochemistry (sum of biology and chemistry), biophysics (sum of biology and physics), astrobiology (sum of biology and astronomy), biomedicine (sum of biology and medicine), etc.

At the same time, he borrows material from chemistry, mathematics, physics and various engineering and computer sciences to compose his methods of analysis and measurement, in addition to building his own specialized tools and apparatus.

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