Otherwise known as life science, biology is more relevant than most of us like to give it credit for.
From the question of how earth was formed to the creation of the human race, it’s evolutionary biology that holds most of these answers.
As human beings we are continuously exploring the mysteries of all living things and natural science (in this case biology) can help us to understand anything from the wonder of a healthy foetus to the perils of drug abuse.
In order to really understand how our bodies work and how best to take care of them, we inevitably turn to branches of biology such as molecular genetics and neurobiology.
When learners advance in their biology studies they will learn to appreciate biological systems and understand our responsibility to be caretakers of our planet. Studying ecology and evolution through biology helps you to realise that ecology is a fine balance of living organisms that rely on each other for their very existence.
Are you just bursting to start learning biology now? Don’t stop reading here, this article is going to get you really pumped for life sciences and everything that modern biology has to offer!
So What Will Studying Life Science Entail?
Of course you can expect the regular testing, quizzing and assignments, but the beauty of any of the fields in natural science is the opportunities they give you to do experiments and experience hands-on lessons. Because life science is such and integrative subject it joins together aspects of genetics, environmental science, animal behaviour, botany and more, it ensures you will be exposed to a wide variety of learning experiences.
Sometimes this will mean spending time dissecting vertebrate in a biology department laboratory or using a microscope to study microbes and chromosomes at a microscopic level; it all depends on what biology programme you choose to follow. But most importantly, the aim is to show learners that through studying the different aspects of science, we are able to find solutions to various dilemmas.
Even if you’re a straight A graduate student with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, you can never know too much about this exciting subject. Additional biology courses will only serve to expand your understanding of specialised fields such as molecular biology or environmental biology. Not to mention the fact that your basic scientific and biological terminology will be significantly more impressive.
A general education in biological sciences will contribute towards improving learners' overall understanding of basic health science. This could be anything from the importance good hygienic practises to the damages of drug addiction and alcoholism on a cellular level.
There are a myriad of health professions that obviously rely heavily on a robust foundation of general biology. However learners hoping to study anything from biochemistry, marine science, zoology and even palaeontology, to mention only a few, will also be required to major in biology.
It’s important for students to understand that biology opens doors for all kinds of careers, from teaching and research in a department of biology to working as a biochemistry and molecular biology consultant in the food production industry.
When it comes to choosing a career in biological sciences, the list is endless.
Life Science Is Applicable in Everyday Life
It doesn’t take a lab coat or a Bachelor of Science degree for biology to impact your life. Because any biologist would agree that we are constantly surrounded by life science and it affects all of our lives.
Besides the fact that our bodies are living, breathing specimens of biological processes that we take for granted every day, there are also thousands of examples of items and processes that we couldn’t live without that all have links to bioscience.
Without advances in biological science, many of these everyday conveniences wouldn’t even exist.
The role of biology in our nutrition
Food is our fuel. We love it, we celebrate it and for some of us it’s an art, but its main function is sustenance. When you think about it on a molecular level it’s easy to believe the old adage ‘We are what we eat’. Thanks to bioinformatics on nutrition we have a plethora of information on the benefits of eating healthily. Much of this data can be used to avoid long term ailments such as heart disease.
But besides the education in nutrition, it’s also thanks to biotechnology and general chemistry that much of the food on our plate actually makes it to the table in one piece.
How many of us stop to consider the processes it took for us to have fresh milk in the fridge or fresh fruit in our grocery bag? And how is it that our bread is so light and fluffy?
Cows need to consume enormous amounts of grass in order to remain healthy and produce milk at a productive level. Thanks to photosynthesis grass is able to grow and we are able to consume dairy products.
Farmers know that in order for a cow to produce a high level of milk they need to give birth to a calf every year. Once this process has taken place over a period of three years, the cow is then used for the production of beef. All this knowledge is a result of biological studies.
When it comes to making bread, bakers make use of yeast as a raising agent. Yeast is in fact a fungus that has an appetite for sugar, when the two ingredients are combined the by-product is carbon dioxide which is responsible for that airy texture we all love so much. That’s just a little bit of simple biophysics.
The Biological Impact on Housework
The functions of bacteria and enzymes aren’t only associated with our food. The very products we use to cut through grease and grime and beat the dust in our homes rely on the powerful force of microbes.
Before the production of biological detergents such as washing powder, it took elbow grease and sheer determination to eliminate stains and grime from laundry. Thanks to advanced formulas created in a chemistry laboratory we can now rest assured that our clothing remains germ free and stain resistant.
There are actual enzymes in our laundry detergents that have been adapted to survive in high temperatures. They have the ability to eliminate stains by breaking down various protein, fat and starch molecules and thereby cleaning stains from oil splashes to mud splatters as well as neutralising unpleasant sweaty odours.
Washing powders have advanced so much that there are certain brands that have the ability to “keep whites whiter and brights brighter!” as well as detergents that can prevent black clothing from fading. These are the results of scientific revolution in the world of cleaning products.
When we consider the biological science going on in the background of all those television advertisements it makes you appreciate their claims a little more.
Instead of rolling your eyes at the bright colours and catchy jingles you could view the ads as a micro revision session!
Biology Helps Us Take Better Care of Our Bodies
It’s because of biotechnology in biomedical sciences that numerous illnesses and diseases have been nearly eliminated due to the invention of vaccinations. The ability to administer allergy shots and do screening of blood donors is also an outcome of biotechnology.
There is another branch of biology known as biologics and this involves the creation of medicinal products that are used either for the diagnosing or prevention of diseases and illnesses. These products consist of a range of natural organisms that are mostly derived from human and animal cells.
It’s all thanks to the tireless research of health sciences biologists that we have the option of getting flu shots every winter season. Not to mention the fact that most of us alive today will never have to see the devastation caused by the polio virus because it has been almost eradicated by consistent vaccinations worldwide.
What would the world be without immunology?
The Convenience of Life at Home Has a Lot to Do With Biology
Granted, when we think of Eskom the word ‘convenience’ doesn’t really spring to mind but one thing us South Africans can appreciate is how inconvenient life can be without electricity thanks to the ever present threat of loadshedding.
Of course the face of electricity production is changing and scientists are constantly exploring alternative sources of renewable energy. Fossil fuels such as coal and gas aren’t sustainable in the long run but for now much of the power in South Africa is generated through the burning of coal.
These fossil fuels are actually comprised of the remains of organisms that existed many millennia back. However despite their natural origins the burning of fossil fuels is not beneficial to the environment and the annual emission of millions of tons of carbon dioxide is taking its toll on the finely balanced ecosystem of planet earth.
Individuals are starting to take ownership of the damages and many homes are now being equipped with alternatives for power such as solar panels.
Building regulations are becoming more stringent every year in an effort to minimise the need for excessive heating and cooling in new buildings. This means that new buildings are required to have greater insulation in walls and roofs and the use of Low-E glass is now compulsory for large expanses of windows.
Research projects will continue to find ways to limit our carbon footprint and as we become more aware of our ability to contribute from within our homes, we are all essentially becoming biologists in our own rights.