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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the steps of the process of scientific inquiry and apply them to specific examples.
  • Distinguish between independent variables of interest, controlled variables, and dependent variables.
  • Describe controlled experiments and explain why they are desirable.
  • Explain the basis of a double-blind experiment and how it can help avoid bias.

Like geology, physics, and chemistry, biology is a science that gathers knowledge about the natural world. Specifically, biology is the study of life. The discoveries of biology are made by a community of researchers who work individually and together using agreed-on methods. In this sense, biology, like all sciences is a social enterprise like politics or the arts. The methods of science include careful observation, record keeping, logical and mathematical reasoning, experimentation, and submitting conclusions to the scrutiny of others. Science also requires considerable imagination and creativity; a well-designed experiment is commonly described as elegant, or beautiful. Like politics, science has considerable practical implications and some science is dedicated to practical applications, such as the prevention of disease (see [link] ). Other science proceeds largely motivated by curiosity. Whatever its goal, there is no doubt that science, including biology, has transformed human existence and will continue to do so.

Scanning electronic micrograph depicts E. coli bacteria aggregated together.
Biologists may choose to study Escherichia coli ( E. coli ), a bacterium that is a normal resident of our digestive tracts but which is also sometimes responsible for disease outbreaks. In this micrograph, the bacterium is visualized using a scanning electron microscope and digital colorization. (credit: Eric Erbe; digital colorization by Christopher Pooley, USDA-ARS)

The nature of science

Biology is a science, but what exactly is science? What does the study of biology share with other scientific disciplines? Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") can be defined as knowledge about the natural world.

Science is a very specific way of learning, or knowing, about the world. The history of the past 500 years demonstrates that science is a very powerful way of knowing about the world; it is largely responsible for the technological revolutions that have taken place during this time. There are however, areas of knowledge and human experience that the methods of science cannot be applied to. These include such things as answering purely moral questions, aesthetic questions, or what can be generally categorized as spiritual questions. Science has cannot investigate these areas because they are outside the realm of material phenomena, the phenomena of matter and energy, and cannot be observed and measured.

The scientific method    is a method of research with defined steps that include experiments and careful observation. The steps of the scientific method will be examined in detail later, but one of the most important aspects of this method is the testing of hypotheses. A hypothesis    is a suggested explanation for an event, which can be tested. Hypotheses, or tentative explanations, are generally produced within the context of a scientific theory    . A scientific theory is a generally accepted, thoroughly tested and confirmed explanation for a set of observations or phenomena. Scientific theory is the foundation of scientific knowledge. In addition, in many scientific disciplines (less so in biology) there are scientific laws , often expressed in mathematical formulas, which describe how elements of nature will behave under certain specific conditions. There is not an evolution of hypotheses through theories to laws as if they represented some increase in certainty about the world. Hypotheses are the day-to-day material that scientists work with and they are developed within the context of theories. Laws are concise descriptions of parts of the world that are amenable to formulaic or mathematical description.

Questions & Answers

what is the meaning of extended family
Shellyann Reply
extended family is two are more nuclear family living together under one roof
Nordalee
what is genetic engineering
Ebot Reply
good day please what is a cell?
Colota Reply
cell is the basic unit of all living things/organism
Hassan
differenciate b/w cilia and flagellum
Abshira
Cilia: 1. They are smaller in number. 2. Cilia usually occur throughout or major part of the surface of a cell. 3. They beat oar like and in a co-ordinated rhythm 4. Cilia help in locomotion, feeding, circulation, etc.. 5. Example: Paramecium
iti
Flagella: 1. They are larger in size. ADVERTISEMENTS: 2. Flagella are commonly found at one end of the cell. 3. The flagella beat whip-like and independently. 4. Flagella help in locomotion. 5. Example: Euglena
iti
smallest structural and functional unit of an organism!
zidane
cell is the basic unit of all living things
Lukman
what is homeostasis
alex Reply
the ability of an organism to maintain stable internal environment, even when the external environment changes
Bee
what's the function of the hypothalamus
Agyekum
what is homeostasis
Edward Reply
constant maintenance of internal body temperature
Agyekum
What is the function of the Pituitary Gland?
WeNdlovu
how can homeostasis be maintained?
alex
pituitary gland also known as the master gland secretes hormones which triggers other gland to secretes their hormones
Agyekum
what's the full meaning of DNA and RNA
Deborah Reply
DNA is Deoxyribonucleic acid and RNA means Ribonucleic acid
Christian
sha is mitochondria?
Sparrow Reply
what is biology
Femi Reply
biology is the study which deals with the study of the biological components or animal and plants.
Juhi
biology is the study of life.
Roger
biology is the branch of science which deals with study of two parts 1.botany&2zoology these is known as biology....
Chetan
biology is the study of human beings ...
Chetan
Biology is a branch of science that deals with the study of nature
Agyekum
biology is the science of living organism
Abshira
biology is the branch of science that deals with study of living organisms
Lukman
what is neculer cell?
is it nuclear cell?
iti
asthma occur in which part of the body organ?
Festus Reply
Lungs
NICHOLAS
lungs
marian
heart
Cynthia
can you explain to me why you say heart is the answer
marian
what is hemoglobin
Lucky Reply
a protein that carries oxygen, it is found within red blood cells
EmmyOrangePeel
Apart from endocrinology, what other alternative should be done to a D/m client
Deborah Reply
good day please what is excretion
Blaise Reply
excretion is the process by which metabolic wastes and other none-useful materials are eliminated from an organism.
Petrene
its the process of eliminating or removal of metabolic waste and non useful materials from an organ.
eyong
Its the removal of metabolic waste product from the body
Boo
it is the removal from the body of living organisms, toxic waste products of metabolism which if allowed to accurate can cost harm to the body..
Renzo
how are protons formed?
Brian Reply
What is isotopes?
Brian
isotopes is a phenomenon in which atoms of the same element has the same atomic number but different mass number due to a difference in their neutron number or relative abundance in the earth crust
Efosa
give me more mcqs there r just two mcqs
Salma Reply
Define the term Disease in one paragraph.
Sutanya Reply
Disease is any disorders that counteract with the normal performance of the immune system.
Agyekum
what is cell?
Colota
Cell is the basic unit of life It is the building block of an organism
Agyekum
do agree with me that if someone needs to truely be a biologist he should be mathematician physicist & chemist in oreder to acheive the level #biologist
Assila
what is a protoplasm?
Colota
colourless living part of the cell
Jenny
what is protoplasm made up of?
Jack

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Source:  OpenStax, Human biology. OpenStax CNX. Dec 01, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11903/1.3
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