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rav65819_ch01_001-016 - part the molecular basis of life I...

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part I the molecular basis of life The Science of Biology YOU ARE ABOUT TO EMBARK ON A JOURNEY —a journey of discovery about the nature of life. Nearly 180 years ago, a young English naturalist named Charles Darwin set sail on a similar journey on board H.M.S. Beagle ; a replica of this ship is pictured here. What Darwin learned on his five-year voyage led directly to his development of the theory of evolution by natural selection, a theory that has become the core of the science of biology. Darwin’s voyage seems a fitting place to begin our exploration of biology: the scientific study of living organisms and how they have evolved. Before we begin, however, let’s take a moment to think about what biology is and why it’s important. Chapter Introduction 1.3 An Example of Scientific Inquiry: Darwin and Evolution The idea of evolution existed prior to Darwin Darwin observed differences in related organisms Darwin proposed natural selection as a mechanism for evolution Testing the predictions of natural selection concept outline 1.1 The Science of Life Biology unifies much of natural science Life defies simple definition Living systems show hierarchical organization 1.2 The Nature of Science Much of science is descriptive Science uses both deductive and inductive reasoning Hypothesis-driven science makes and tests predictions Reductionism breaks larger systems into their component parts Biologists construct models to explain living systems The nature of scientific theories Research can be basic or applied 1.4 Unifying Themes in Biology Cell theory describes the organization of living systems The molecular basis of inheritance explains the continuity of life The relationship between structure and function underlies living systems The diversity of life arises by evolutionary change Evolutionary conservation explains the unity of living systems Cells are information-processing systems Emergent properties arise from the organization of life
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***1 1.1 The Science of Life This is the most exciting time to be studying biology in the history of the field. The amount of data available about the natural world has exploded in the last 25 years, and we are now in a position to ask and answer questions that previously were only dreamed of. We have determined the entire sequence of the human genome, and are in the process of sequencing the genomes of other species at an ever increasing pace. We are closing in on a description of the molecular workings of the cell in unprecedented detail, and we are in the process of finally unveiling the mystery of how a single cell can give rise to the complex organization seen in multicellular organisms. With robotics, advanced imaging, and analytical techniques, we have tools available that were formerly the stuff of science fiction.
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