Although biology in its modern form is a relatively recent development, sciences related to and included within it have been studied since ancient times. Biology began to quickly develop and grow with dramatic improvement of the microscope. It was then that scholars discovered spermatozoa, bacteria, infusoria and the sheer strangeness and diversity of microscopic life. Advances in microscopy also had a profound impact on biological thinking itself. In the early 19th century, a number of biologists pointed to the central importance of the cell. By the 1860s most biologists accepted of what came to be known as cell theory.
However, it was the British naturalist Charles Darwin, combining the bio-geographically approach of Humboldt, the uniformitarian geology of Lyell, Thomas Malthus’s writings on population growth, and his own morphological expertise, that created a more successful evolutionary theory based on natural selection. The discovery of the physical representation of heredity came along with evolutionary principles and population genetics. In the 1940s and early 1950s, experiments pointed to DNA as the component of chromosomes that held genes. The DNA code was cracked by Har Gobind Khorana, Robert W. Holley and Marshall Warren Nirenberg after DNA was understood to contain codons. Finally, the Human Genome Project was launched in 1990 with the goal of mapping the general human genome. This project was essentially completed in 2003, with further analysis still being published.
Biology is a natural science which studies living organisms and how they interact with each other and their environment. It examines the structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, and distribution of living things. Also, it classifies and describes organisms, their functions, and how species come into existence.
Four unifying principles form the foundation of modern biology: cell theory, evolution, genetics and homeostasis. Biology has its great importance in fields like food, health, environment, industry by producing GM food and other foods to meet the needs, searching means of medicines, cleaning environment, providing goods for the industry.
Biology as a separate science was developed in the nineteenth century as scientists discovered that organisms shared fundamental characteristics. Biology is now a standard subject of instruction at schools and universities around the world, and over a million papers are published annually in a wide array of biology and medicine journals.
Biology as a Career
To pursue Biology as a career you need to graduate from college with a degree in biology, botany, zoology or a related field. With such a degree, you can work as a technician in a biotechnology company, or as a field biologist for the government, or similar career. Or you can go on and get a Ph.D. in biology, which takes about 5 years beyond college. With that education, you can be a professor at a university and do original research and teach classes, or you could direct an entire group doing research in biotechnology.
The principal objective at this stage would be to explore the variations amongst the living and developing respect for the diversities, and to appreciate that the most complex biological phenomena are also built on essentially simple processes. Learning Biology should uncover these elementary aspects and illustrate their linkage to more complex phenomena. It was also felt that the contributions of scientists (women scientists in particular) that led to critical and important discoveries in Biology should be highlighted, not merely through a chronological listing, but through brief biographical discussions, in an effort to bring out the processes that led to the discovery of principles and ideas in Biology. These would stimulate critical and creative thinking. Besides, the proposed course at the higher secondary stage provides substantial orientation to the students to professional/career opportunities available in medicine, agriculture, research, teaching and industry.
The syllabus also takes up issues pertaining to environment, health and other ethical issues that arise with any interference of human beings in the natural processes, which have great relevance from the societal point of view. A discussion on these in the prescribed syllabus would help tackle prevalent misconceptions and empower the student to play a rational, responsible and informed role in society.
Biology at higher Secondary level will be more focused and will aim at learning all the important concepts of biology generally asked in various Board exams and competitive exams.
Key points for developing subject matter :
- The meaning of being 'alive'.
- Living organisms show a very large diversity in form and structure ranging from unicellular to very large multicellularwell-differentiated bodies.
- For ease of study, they have been organized into categories and this is called classification.
- Principally, all living organisms can be placed in one or the other of five kingdoms.
- The Binomial system, literally ‘two names’, of classification is followed, where each organism has a Latin generic name with a specific epithet.
- Higher organisation of animals and plants is achieved through assembly of thousands/millions of cells into specialised tissues that in turn form organs and organ systems.
- Organisms show increasing complexity in structure and function as we move from the lower to the higher levels.
- Essential processes of cell division – mitosis and meiosis are similar in animals and plants.
- Proteins, the major macro group besides providing structural support, mediate many physiological functions like catalysis, defence, transport, and sensing.