Define Biology. Explain why we study this.
Biology is the study of life. (bio- life, ology- the study of). The very first spark of self awareness in animals was the first biology lesson. Biology is the study of us, of life, of living and surviving and reproducing and continuing: and always changing. We are alive, what does that mean? Where is the line between life and not life? Why is there anything here besides rocks and water? Why do mother humans bond with their babies, and mother guppies don't? Does a "mother" apple tree worry about the little apples that fall on the ground? How do sunflowers know to turn their faces to the sun? What makes some food nutritious? Why do we have a Kreb's cycle? How does vision work? How do I get up in the morning, wash my face and then sing a song while the coffee is perking? The study of biology is the study of us. The study of the alive, the living, the extant. The study of all of us, humans, turtles, tulips, E. coli, vitamins, baby three toed sloths, the terrible twos, corn viruses, mosquitos, green algae ... well, you get the idea.
Anatomy is the study of structure. Since human anatomy has not changed significantly in the last millenia or so, why would we continue to research this subject, and why would the student of anatomy continue to update their knowledge of the subject?
It is true that the basics of human structure are essentially the same today as they were in humans of 2000 years ago. We still have one heart, two eyes, bones with calcium and the food goes in the top of the digestive system and comes out... well you know. However our ways of studying and understanding the human structure have changed hugely. Our study sample has widened to include an entire planet of bodies to learn from, and we are finding significant variations in physical adaptations to the environments and cultures that challenge us. The latest amazing journey in anatomy takes us into the very cells themselves, and their tiny organells, into the molecular structure of the processes of life, and even to the very atoms of our DNA. Biology of all kinds is a study of change, in fact the only thing in human science, and in biology in general that doesn't change is change itself.
How have humans adapted to changing environments on this planet? How might these adaptations be maximized to adapt to survival in other environments?
Although humans have relatively narrow environmental survival parameters, we have adapted to many of the challenges through our evolution both of the individual and as a species. In addition the development of self awareness and conciousness of our need for survival have allowed us to develope learned behaviors and ways to manipulate our environments beyond the capabilities of other species. As we learn and grow in our understanding of the phisical world and our own internal physical world we are finding ways to venture into more challenging and threatening environments here on earth, as in the ocieans, living underground, desert and arctic environments, and in the air. These advances in our understanding can continue as we begin to explore extra-terrestial envirnments.