What Is Biology?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,739
    Science expert Emerald Robinson explains what the study of biology is and what we learn from it.

    Emerald Robinson: Hi! I am Emerald Robinson and in this What Is video we are going to tackle the question, what is biology?

    Biology is the study of all aspects of life, from the smallest unit of DNA in a cell's nucleus, to the massive algal blooms on the ocean's surface.

    Scientists who study biology are called biologists. Since biology is a science, biologists use the scientific method, a specific set of steps designed to test answers to a problem, when they do their experiments.

    Biology is a very broad science; some scientists claim that there are over 50 branches of biology, but there are five principles that unify all fields of modern biology.

    1. Cells are the smallest unit of life.

    Microbiologists study cells and other forms of life that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was a biologist who improved the microscope and enabled people to be able to see bacteria for the first time.

    2. Units of heredity called genes are how traits are passed from generation to generation.

    James Watson and Francis Crick's discovery of the double-helical structure of DNA in 1953 clarified our understanding of how and why we look like our parents.

    3. Living things change over time or evolve.

    The most famous evolutionary biologist, Charles Darwin, coined the phrase survival of the fittest, and created a terrific controversy on the ancestry of humans.

    4. In order for an organism to survive, it must regulate its body to keep its internal state constant.

    First named by Claude Bernard, this principle called homeostasis is one of the most important concepts in medicine.

    5. All living things require energy to survive. Whether it's a tiny ant or a huge sequoia tree, it needs energy to grow and reproduce. Together these five principles encompass modern biology.