Biology


Biology

Biology is the scientific study of all forms of life, including plants, animals, and microorganisms.

Among the numerous fields in biology are microbiology, the study of microscopic organisms like bacteria; cytology, the study of cells; embryology, the study of development; genetics, the study of heredity; biochemistry, the study of the chemical structures in living things; morphology, the study of the anatomy of plants and animals; taxonomy, the identification, naming, and classification of organisms; and physiology, the study of how organic systems function and respond to stimulation. Biology often interfaces with subjects like psychology. For example, animal behaviorists would need to understand the biological nature of the animal they are studying in order to evaluate the animal's behavior.

Important discoveries in biological science

The history of biology begins with the careful observation of the external aspects of organisms and continues with investigations into the functions and interrelationships of living things.

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle is credited with establishing the importance of observation and analysis as the basic approach for scientific investigation. By A.D. 200, studies in biology were centered in the Arab world. Most of the investigations during this period were made in medicine and agriculture. Arab scientists continued this activity throughout the Middle Ages.

When ancient Greek and Roman writings were revived in Europe during the Renaissance, scientific investigations began to accelerate. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Italian Renaissance artists, produced detailed anatomical drawings of human beings. At the same time others were dissecting cadavers (dead bodies) and describing internal anatomy. By the seventeenth century, formal experimentation was introduced into the study of biology. William Harvey, an English physician, demonstrated the circulation of the blood and so initiated the biological discipline of physiology.

So much work was being done in biological science during this period that academies of science and scientific journals were formed, the first of which being the Academy of the Lynx in Rome in 1603. In Massachusetts, the Boston Philosophical Society was founded nearly a hundred years before the American Revolution. The first scientific journals were established in 1665 with the Journal des Savants (France) and in Great Britain with the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

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