Week 9 - Characteristics of Living Things
1 Introduction - What is Living?
No Textbook Readings for this lesson
The universe is a marvelous place that is filled with stars, galaxies and even collections of galaxies called super-clusters. But through all our investigations of the our own solar system and the milky way galaxy we have yet to find any other signs of life out there. Many astronomers and exobiologists and organizations like SETI and NASA are looking for extraterrestrial life. But how does one define life and what kind of living things might we expect to find out there?
Is there life out there?
But we don't have to search into deep space to find strange life forms. Many scientists believe that we know more about space than we do of the Earth's deep oceans. Come along as we explore some of the strangest living creatures ever seen.
Check out this PBS site and examine creatures like 'fang tooth' and 'viper fish'. Some creatures even make their own light in a world where there is no light . This is called bioluminescence . In this module we will be exploring some of the concepts we have about life. Like all investigations in science we will start off with some questions to focus our investigations.
- What defines something as living?
- Do all living organisms have things in common?
- There are about 1.75 million species on Earth. How do we make sense of the vast diversity of living things we find on this planet?
- What variations in structure and function can found in living things?
- Finally, and more personally, how does our body work?
"I think therefore I am"
Rene' Descartes (1596-1650). The father of modern philosophy.
The computer can perform more complex mental tasks then the baby and yet we know that the baby is alive and not the computer. Obviously there is more to being alive then simply thinking.
All living things :
- are made of cells
- grow and develop
- need energy
- respond to their environment
- adapt to their environment
Exercise 1.1: Characteristics of Living Systems
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