Glossary

Glossary

applied science:  a form of science that solves real-world problems

atom:  a basic unit of matter that cannot be broken down by normal chemical reactions

basic science:  science that seeks to expand knowledge regardless of the short-term application of that knowledge

biology:  the study of living organisms and their interactions with one another and their environments

biosphere:  a collection of all ecosystems on Earth

cell:  the smallest fundamental unit of structure and function in living things

community:  a set of populations inhabiting a particular area

control:  a part of an experiment that does not change during the experiment

deductive reasoning:  a form of logical thinking that uses a general statement to forecast specific results

descriptive science: a form of science that aims to observe, explore, and find things out

ecosystem: all living things in a particular area together with the abiotic, nonliving parts of that environment

eukaryote: an organism with cells that have nuclei and membrane-bound organelles

evolution: the process of gradual change in a population that can also lead to new species arising from older species

falsifiable: able to be disproven by experimental results

homeostasis: the ability of an organism to maintain constant internal conditions

hypothesis-based science: a form of science that begins with a specific explanation that is then tested

hypothesis: a suggested explanation for an event, which can be testedinductive reasoninga form of logical thinking that uses related observations to arrive at a general conclusion

life science: a field of science, such as biology, that studies living things

macromolecule: a large molecule typically formed by the joining of smaller molecules

molecule: a chemical structure consisting of at least two atoms held together by a chemical bond

natural science: a field of science that studies the physical world, its phenomena, and processes

organ: a structure formed of tissues operating together to perform a common function

organ system: the higher level of organization that consists of functionally related organs

organelle: a membrane-bound compartment or sac within a cell

organism: an individual living entity

peer-reviewed article: a scientific report that is reviewed by a scientist’s colleagues before publication

phylogenetic tree: a diagram showing the evolutionary relationships among biological species based on similarities and differences in genetic or physical traits or both

physical science: a field of science, such as astronomy, physics, and chemistry, that studies nonliving matter

population: all individuals within a species living within a specific area

prokaryote: a unicellular organism that lacks a nucleus or any other membrane-bound organelle

science: knowledge that covers general truths or the operation of general laws, especially when acquired and tested by the scientific method

scientific law: a description, often in the form of a mathematical formula, for the behavior of some aspect of nature under certain specific conditions

scientific method: a method of research with defined steps that include experiments and careful observation

scientific theory: a thoroughly tested and confirmed explanation for observations or phenomena

tissue: a group of similar cells carrying out the same function

variable: a part of an experiment that can vary or change

Section Summary

Themes and Concepts of Biology

Biology is the science of life. All living organisms share several key properties such as order, sensitivity or response to stimuli, reproduction, adaptation, growth and development, regulation, homeostasis, and energy processing. Living things are highly organized following a hierarchy that includes atoms, molecules, organelles, cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems. Organisms, in turn, are grouped as populations, communities, ecosystems, and the biosphere. Evolution is the source of the tremendous biological diversity on Earth today. A diagram called a phylogenetic tree can be used to show evolutionary relationships among organisms. Biology is very broad and includes many branches and sub disciplines. Examples include molecular biology, microbiology, neurobiology, zoology, and botany, among others.

The Process of Science

Biology is the science that studies living organisms and their interactions with one another and their environments. Science attempts to describe and understand the nature of the universe in whole or in part. Science has many fields; those fields related to the physical world and its phenomena are considered natural sciences.

A hypothesis is a tentative explanation for an observation. A scientific theory is a well-tested and consistently verified explanation for a set of observations or phenomena. A scientific law is a description, often in the form of a mathematical formula, of the behavior of an aspect of nature under certain circumstances. Two types of logical reasoning are used in science. Inductive reasoning uses results to produce general scientific principles. Deductive reasoning is a form of logical thinking that predicts results by applying general principles. The common thread throughout scientific research is the use of the scientific method. Scientists present their results in peer-reviewed scientific papers published in scientific journals.

Science can be basic or applied. The main goal of basic science is to expand knowledge without any expectation of short-term practical application of that knowledge. The primary goal of applied research, however, is to solve practical problems.

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