Hi guys! Now that I’ve completed reviewing the first chapter that you might read and learn about in general chemistry class, I will soon be uploading a handwritten review sheet that should be no more than 5 pages. (In the future, I will probably consider typing review sheets up because this one is taking incredibly long due to me writing it out.) This review sheet will not be overly comprehensive: it is a brief way for you to go over concepts and see which ones you will need more time to study. The review sheet will be based on the posts made on this website. I mention his because if there is anything you find yourself to need some more knowledge on, there is a search bar on the site to go check out related posts. One thing I will mention now, and mention again later, is that these review sheets characteristically DO NOT include examples and lengthy explanations, such as of demonstrable processes that you will use in the laboratory. You MUST go back to original posts if you would like to review examples and full-length explanations of processes used in scientific research. I am considering making a review sheet with solely examples of concepts, but that is not a priority right now and may or may not be done in the future.
Moving on, today I will be starting on the topic of biology. When it comes to the MCAT, it is not just beneficial to study one subject a time. Some people choose to do things this way, but I don’t. After all, in college, you probably did not just take one science course per semester: you were likely bombarded with a slew of science courses each semester and you had to find a way to balance your studies appropriately. I’ll now be including biology posts alongside chemistry posts, and might soon begin reviewing psychology and/or sociology as well. And if you simply want to focus on a single subject at a time, this is why the category labels on the website are useful. Just click on the category label on the website that relates to the subject you’d like to study and you will see only posts related to that subject.
What is biology? Biology is the science of life. If you’d like to be more specific, you might narrow it down to biology being the study of living organisms and their evolution over time. This is also very true. What is the core of biology? Many of us already know the answer to this question. If you have heard of Charles Darwin, then you know what the heart of biology is. Charles Darwin was an English naturalist who, over 180 years ago, embarked on a journey aboard the H.M.S Beagle that lasted five years in total, during which he developed his famously controversial theory of evolution by natural selection (Raven et al. 2016). Evolution is defined as the process of change that has caused the transformation of life on Earth, starting with the Earth’s earliest beginnings in prehistoric times, to the current diversity of the organisms that inhabit the Earth (Reece et al. 2013).
Biologists are tasked with posing questions about the living world around them, and using the scientific method to find answers to these questions. Recently, in the current century, scientists completed the sequence of the human genome. This project took 20 years in total. Discoveries such as this one are being applied to field of medicine and helping to advance humanity every day (Raven et al. 2016). Biology can be described as a quest, or a journey, and frankly, it never ends, as long as scientific minds continue to ask questions and seek answers, no matter how broad they may be (Reece et al. 2013).
One of the first questions that you might ask yourself when you venture into the field of biology is “What is life?” Although we all seem to know the difference between life and death (in a simple sense, and not necessarily in the metaphysical sense), the answer to the question of “What is life?” is actually much more difficult to find than we think. To start, this question is probably one of the broadest questions out there. But, let’s narrow it down by applying it to our own interactions with our environment (Reece et al. 2013).
In life, we take note of the way living organisms interact with their environment. Examples of this include the order than you notice when you look closely at a sunflower. Or, the size of a jackrabbit’s ears, which help the animal to regulate its body temperature, by adjusting heat transfer with the air surrounding it. And famously, the Venus fly trap is another wonder of the amazing world we live in. The Venus fly trap closes its trap rapidly when a damselfly lands in it, an example of a response to an environmental stimulus. As one last example, we learn when we are young that butterflies obtain fuel from the nectar found in flowers. A more advanced way of looking at this is that this nectar contains chemical energy that the butterfly will used to power its flight and perform other tasks of life (Reece at al. 2013).
As you think about what you learned in this post, prepare to immerse yourself deeper in the study of biology. Beginning with the next biology review, I will begin focusing on molecular and cellular biology, which are a major part of the MCAT. The things I have mentioned so far are just the beginning of the journey that you will take when you study biology, the science of life. At the end of your study of the subject, you should have a deeper appreciation for the world around you, especially on the cellular level.
A prospective medical student, looking to help others succeed.