Answers to Some Biology Questions

For the first question, the group can procure living things for study by taking note of the hallmarks of life. According to Starr, Evers and Starr (2008), living things share the following characteristics in common (1) they are capable of utilizing an energy source and materials from its environment to build itself up and grow (2) they can adapt to changes in its environment via long-term evolution or an immediate response, for the purpose of its survival and for regulating its functions (3) they are capable of producing new things like itself and (4) they exhibit a definite structural organization.

    These characteristics are all present in a lot of organisms commonly found in our environment. These characteristics are not universal, however for instance, debates are still on-going as to whether viruses are alive, in spite of their inability to meet condition 1 when theyre not infecting cells, and some non-living things like artificial membranes are shown in the laboratory to meet condition 4. But for purposes of a collection the presence of even one characteristic should be sufficient ground for us to collect a sample for studying.

    For the second question, the gain or loss of subatomic particles such as electrons, protons, and neutrons give rise to different conditions that follow a number of conservation principles. Of the three particles, only the loss and gain of an electron is observable in common natural processes. In chemistry, the gain and loss of an electron occurs simultaneously between two atoms, resulting in the formation of a chemical bond. The transfer of electrons from one region to another gives rise to an electrical charge, as is the case with the electrical charge produced when rubbing a wool cloth on a glass rod.

    The gaining or losing of either a proton or neutron does not occur outside the realm of radioactivity, and not without the input of tremendous amount of energy. The loss or gain of a proton changes the identity of the atom into that of another element, as well as change the electrical and other properties of the resulting particle or particles. The loss or gain of a neutron produces an isotope of the element to which the atom is classified as.

    For the third question, the complexity and sheer amount of activity the parts of the cell can do, the cell can be compared to a city. For instance, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) can be seen as a sort of cellular factory, which produces both materials like lipids in smooth ER necessary to making the cell membrane, as well as the workers themselves, called proteins, in rough ER. The cytoplasm can be seen as the citys whole transportation system, as it transports food, electrolytes and other substances throughout the cell as well as outside it, with the use of appendages on the cell membrane.

    Molecules used other than for structural purposes can also be seen in this light. Still using this analogy of the cell as a miniature city, the DNA comprises the citys laws, while RNA and all the machinery for protein synthesis are law enforcers, making sure that the instructions encoded in DNA are realized. The products of this machinery, called proteins, are in turn the workers that run this machinery as well as all the processes occurring in the cell.

    The complex substances called enzymes are proteins. For the fourth question, enzymes function to facilitate the chemical reactions within the cell. Basically, enzymes prepare its target molecules to make it easier to react with before it is converted to products. Without enzymes, the reactions would occur slowly, as it is hard to convert most common molecules into new ones.

    For instance, the conversion of food sugars (say, glucose) into a usable energy source for the cell in the process called metabolism is a chemical reaction wherein the glucose reacts with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water. If this reaction were to take place without enzymes, the reaction would take hundreds of years to complete, while in human cells this take place in seconds, allowing for a constant supply of energy that can be utilized.

    Finally, for the fifth question, the processes called metabolism and photosynthesis are complementary cellular processes, which use raw material from the earth and energy in the form of sunlight to sustain life on earth.

    As discussed in the previous question, carbon dioxide is a by-product of metabolism by animals and other creatures using the same mechanism for energy production. This carbon dioxide is taken in by plants and other photosynthetic organisms. Carbon dioxide will then combine with water and using the energy from sunlight to produce glucose, which also serves as its energy source, and oxygen as its by-product. This oxygen is released to the environment, to be taken up by animals and their kin, and this self-sustaining cycle continues on.


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