Biology

This field encompasses a set of disciplines that examines phenomena related to living organisms. The scale of study can range from sub-component biophysics up to complex ecologies. Biology is concerned with the characteristics, classification and behaviors of organisms, as well as how species were formed and their interactions with each other and the environment. The biological fields of botany, zoology, and medicine date back to early periods of civilization, while microbiology was introduced in the 17th century with the invention of the microscope. However, it was not until the 19th century that biology became a unified science. Once scientists discovered commonalities between all living things, it was decided they were best studied as a whole. Some key developments in biology were the discovery of genetics; Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection; the germ theory of disease and the application of the techniques of chemistry and physics at the level of the cell or organic molecule. Modern biology is divided into subdisciplines by the type of organism and by the scale being studied. Molecular biology is the study of the fundamental chemistry of life, while cellular biology is the examination of the cell; the basic building block of all life. At a higher level, physiology looks at the internal structure of organism, while ecology looks at how various organisms interrelate. Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that uses the methods of, and theories from, physics to study biological systems.[1] Biophysics spans all levels of biological organization, from the molecular scale to whole organisms and ecosystems. Biophysical research shares significant overlap with biochemistry, nanotechnology, bioengineering, agrophysics and systems biology. Molecular biophysics typically addresses biological questions similar to those in biochemistry and molecular biology, but more quantitatively. Scientists in this field conduct research concerned with understanding the interactions between the various systems of a cell, including the interactions between DNA, RNA and protein biosynthesis, as well as how these inter

ctions are regulated. A great variety of techniques are used to answer these questions. Fluorescent imaging techniques, as well as electron microscopy, x-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy (AFM) are often used to visualize structures of biological significance. Conformational change in structure can be measured using techniques such as dual polarisation interferometry and circular dichroism. Direct manipulation of molecules using optical tweezers or AFM can also be used to monitor biological events where forces and distances are at the nanoscale. Molecular biophysicists often consider complex biological events as systems of interacting units which can be understood through statistical mechanics, thermodynamics and chemical kinetics. By drawing knowledge and experimental techniques from a wide variety of disciplines, biophysicists are often able to directly observe, model or even manipulate the structures and interactions of individual molecules or complexes of molecules. In addition to traditional (i.e. molecular and cellular) biophysical topics like structural biology or enzyme kinetics, modern biophysics encompasses an extraordinarily broad range of research, from bioelectronics to quantum biology involving both experimental and theoretical tools. It is becoming increasingly common for biophysicists to apply the models and experimental techniques derived from physics, as well as mathematics and statistics (see biomathematics), to larger systems such as tissues, organs, populations and ecosystems. Generally, biophysics does not have university-level departments of its own, but has presence as groups across departments within the fields of molecular biology, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, medicine, pharmacology, physiology, physics, and neuroscience. What follows is a list of examples of how each department applies its efforts toward the study of biophysics. This list is hardly all inclusive. Nor does each subject of study belong exclusively to any particular department. Each academic institution makes its own rules and there is much overlap between departments.