LECTURE 01 INTRODUCTION

LECTURE 01 INTRODUCTION - 2:010 LECTURE 1 WHAT IS BIOLOGY?...

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WHAT IS BIOLOGY? You have all had biology in high school so you know that it is the scientific study of life. However, there remains 2 issues. What do we mean by science? And life? Science is a very specific way of examining reality based on the application of a particular method. The scientific method involves explaining reality in a way that can be tested by direct observation or by performing experiments. The important point here is that it is based on observations and measurements. Therefore, things that cannot be observed or measured are not part of scientific explanations. Science is therefore a materialist view of reality. This means that all that exists are measurable matter and energy. Biology is materialist and seeks to explain life in terms of matter, energy and known physical forces. In contrast there are vitalist views of life, which claim that there are immaterial (non-physicl) life forces, spirits, souls that are needed to explain life. By definition these cannot be observed or measured. As biologists we will be explaining life this semester only in terms of matter, energy and physical forces. Life as we will see is surprisingly very difficult to define and there is great conflict among scientists as to its most important distinguishing characteristics. We will talk of these in next lecture. WHY STUDY BIOLOGY? Some of you may be taking this course because for as long as you can remember you have been interested in animals, plants, insects, life. It is a passion of yours. Others may be taking this course because it is an obligation. It is a course required for your major or for your future career. I feel that all students should take a biology course. 1
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This note was uploaded on 03/30/2008 for the course BIO 4:10 taught by Professor Denburg during the Spring '08 term at University of Iowa.

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LECTURE 01 INTRODUCTION - 2:010 LECTURE 1 WHAT IS BIOLOGY?...

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