Now and Nine Years Ago Essays
Topics: DNA, Scientific method, Eukaryote / Pages: 20 (4800 words) / Published: Sep 18th, 2013

Chapter 1

Introduction: Themes in the Study of Life

Lecture Outline

Overview: Inquiring About the World of Life

• Organisms are adapted to the environments they live in.

• These adaptations are the result of evolution, the fundamental organizing principle of biology.

• Posing questions about the living world and seeking science-based answers are the central activities of biology, the scientific study of life.

• Biologists ask a wide variety of ambitious questions.

o They may ask how a single cell becomes a tree or a dog, how the human mind works, or how the living things in a forest interact.

• Biologists can help answer questions that affect our lives in practical ways.

• Research breakthroughs in genetics and cell biology are transforming medicine and agriculture.

o Molecular biology is providing new tools for anthropology and criminal science.

o Neuroscience and evolutionary biology are reshaping psychology and sociology.

o New models in ecology are helping society evaluate environmental issues, such as the causes and biological consequences of global warming.

• What is life?

o The phenomenon of life defies a simple, one-sentence definition.

Concept 1.1 Themes help connect the concepts of biology.

• Seven unifying themes will help you organize and make sense of biological information.

Theme 1: Evolution is the core theme of biology, the one idea that makes sense of everything we know about living organisms.

• Life has been evolving on Earth for billions of years, resulting in a vast diversity of past and present organisms.

• At the same time, living things share certain features.

• The scientific explanation for this unity and diversity is evolution: the idea that the organisms living on Earth today are the modified descendants of common ancestors.

• In other words, scientists can explain traits shared by two organisms with the idea that they have

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