Depending upon his interests, the
biologic scientist specializes in a single
phase-if in animals: ZOOLOGY, if in plant life, BOTANY, if in the Development
of the individual from the "fertilized egg" stage through
Early stages of
life, EMBRYOLOGY, if in the structure of the human body, ANATOMY; if in
functions of the body: PHYSIOLOGY.
Another vital biological science is GENETICS, which explains the
heredity. For microscope work, there is CYTOLOGY, the science of cell
structure and function, or HISTOLOGY, the science of living tissues.
PROTOZOOLOGY is a branch of Biology which deals with One-celled animal
BACTERIOLOGY is a science of one-celled plant life.
Another important and fascinating branch of Biology is
ECOLOGY, the study of the relationship of living things to their environment.
Frequently, a person who studies Biology from intellectual
curiosity becomes intensely interested in a particular division and makes it his
hobby or even his lifework, his profession. Biology is the basis of such
professions as Medicine, Nursing, Agriculture, plant and Animal Breeding
and even Pharmacy.
How shall we acquaint ourselves with the living world around us?
Constant awareness coupled with the curiosity and desire to "dig
deeper" will make our immediate surroundings a field and a laboratory for studying Life.
A small patch of back yard, a vacant lot, even a window box will provide
a field for "exploration"; as will the public park, a local
wooded area, or the seashore, crowded with plant and animal life for us to observe.
The city streets, for all their concrete pavements and huge structures,
have some trees and foliage to watch as they bud in the spring, blossom in
the summer, change color in the fall and become bare in the winter.
Even in the heart of the city, one hears the birds which nest nearby or
pass through on their migrations. Or one sees an earthworm crawling on the
pavement after a heavy rain has driven it out of the soil beneath the
pavement. Where there are human beings there must be other forms
of plant and animal life.
One of the most famous ENTOMOLOGISTS (a biologist who specializes in the
study of insects), Jean Henry Faber, did most of his field work in his
own back yard or in some close by field. He spent hours watching
insects in their daily activities and making notes of his observation.
While some biologists explore the lands, the waters and the skies,
others prefer to work in the laboratory, the "workshop" of the
scientist. If well equipped, this will have running water in a sink, connections for gas,
non corrosive table tops (usually stone) with air pressure, vacuum, and electricity outlets. In addition there will be glass beakers,
jars, flasks, test tubes, bottles, porcelain, crucibles, and shelves for various basic
chemicals. There will probably be an oven or an incubator, a
pressure cooker, and even a refrigerator in some handy place. A well
stocked library of reference books in every branch of Biology is essential.
The Individual who has no access to such a lab. Can build one of his
own, using materials bought in department stores or even found on the kitchen
shelf or in the medicine cabinet. Actual kitchen appliances such
as the stove, the pressure cooker, and the refrigerator can be very useful.
One can always use cardboard boxes or wooden cheese boxes to house small animals
(hamsters, white mice, guinea pigs, insects) for study. One can
always plant a window box garden or even a "pocket garden" in a drinking
glass to study the growth of a seedling or a sweet potato vine or an avocado pit.
IT is simple to leave a moist piece of bread or fruit in a warm spot in the
house so that mold can grow and flourish.
With this simple equipment, you can think scientifically and experiment.
There are certain steps which a scientist follows, without bias or preconception and in logical order, when thinking scientifically. This
is known as the Scientific method.
1. First recognize and state clearly the
problem to be solved or the
question to be answered.
2. Concentrate on one part of the problem
at a time
3. Collect accurate and complete
information from reliable sources.
4. Test this information with new ideas
of your own.
5. Answer the question or draw
The scientist forms a HYPOTHESIS- a proposition which although it
remains to be tested under controlled, experimental conditions, seems to him the
probable explanation of the phenomenon in question.
If subsequent experiments support the hypothesis, it will become the
basis of scientific theory, which may in turn be accepted as NATURAL LAW, if it
is observed to occur without failure or variation in nature. In every experiment all becoming very
curiosity and interest are constantly stimulated. Many newspapers have a a
science column, frequently biological in nature. Current science news, science
facts and advice are presented so that they can be understood and appreciated by
the average reader.
There are science digest, science magazines, radio and television
broadcasts for the express purpose of informing the average individual. They
attempt to whet his desire to seek further information.
The federal government will send literature, on written request, which
provide the most current material on many phases of biology. Write
Department of Interior and to the Department of Agriculture for a list
their pamphlets on the branch of biology in which you are intrusted.
booklets may be sent to you free of charge or at a nominal cost.
Among the greatest storehouses of biologic wealth are our museums, our
botanical and zoological gardens. In New York City, the Museum of
history houses the "story of life" from times historic to
predictions of the future. There are life sized models, lifelike
accurate in every minute detail, set in carefully studied, stimulated
habitats. There are miniatures and fossilized remains. In
this museum one
can learn just by observing the exhibits, reading the "cards"
to the lecturing guides, the entire field of biology with its related
subjects. There are such museums in most large cities and
throughout the country. So, too, with "zoos, zoological
Spend a day in the springtime at the botanical garden. Take your
you, make mental pictures as well of early spring green, of tall plants
well. Of early spring green, of delicate new leaves fresh out of their
of pastel-colored blossoms-especially on the fruit trees, on vines and
growing from the moist ground. Walk through the hot houses and see
variety of plant life which exists in climates other then yours. Smell
Heavily fragrant, moist air. See the mist that halos the foliage and the
rich solid from which it grows. Learn about plant life from
"The Cloisters," an adjunct to the Metropolitan Museum of Art
in Fort Tryon
Park, New York City, has a series of tapesteries, the 'unicorn
that are well known not only for the magnificence of their craftmanship,
design and color but for their craftsmanship, design and color but for
woven pictures of every plant known in the Middle Ages.
In this "imported" monastery are the Gardens of the Monks in
which may be
found odd flowering plants every known herb oddly cultured trees and
other forms of botanic life.
In Cities other then New York, in many other states in the US, there are
museums and collections of both living and preserved forms of plants and
animals-for example, mainland, Silver Springs, and the Everglades in
Florida, The National Parks of the West, The Hills and Valley of
Greece, The Mountains of Peru, the Great Barrier reefs of Australia and
White Shore cliffs found in Africa.
Elizabeth A. Mattson is and presently
teaching Biological sciences for America On Line and Blackboard
Com. Full Introductory classes are 8 weeks long with an 8 week
Extention for Most of the classes. Click here
for the full course.
Elizabeth has a BS in Biology, an AA, in Organic Chemistry, a BA In
Organizational Management and is presently working on my MBA from
Colorado University In Grand Juntion.