Those who study life sciences look at the world through different glasses. They’d look in the mirror and see the inner workings of the human body, and look at other people and see strands of DNA shaping their lives. A leaf is never just a leaf to them, but you don’t want to get them started on explaining to you its origin in Latin. They know how everything that’s considered alive is a world of its own, and they can never have enough of exploring living beings and their magic.
Life Sciences focus on the study of all that’s living, which is why it’s also called Biology. Bios is the Greek word for “Life,” and ology is the suffix that indicates “the study of” and put together, it gives “The Study of Life.” But Life is vast and it’s infinite in its majesty, and you’d be amazed by all the things you had no idea about.
We can never sum up everything about life sciences in one article, but we can try to let you in on everything you should know.
1. There are More than 30 Different Branches in Life Sciences
You’d be breath taken by the number of specialties and branches in life sciences. There are more than 30 different branches, and this blog post explains each branch and what it focuses on in more detail. Once you start exploring the branches, you’ll learn about all the creatures you never even knew existed. You’d marvel at how far we’ve come into understanding plants, animals, humans, insects, microbes, and even dinosaurs. You’ll find out that there’s a branch of study for everything, starting from different classification of creatures to the way our body cells operate.
2. All the Plants Living Today Originated from an Algae
The infinite world of plants surrounding us, in all of its majesties, was once only a single alga. Evolution has never been exclusive to human beings and animals, and even plants evolved over time to rise into all these forests, greens, domestic plants, and everything in between. Plants are also the origin of life; we can’t live without them. They’re the only beings that can create their own food, and they do that by using sunlight in the photosynthesis process. They also use the carbon dioxide gas we emit and give us oxygen in return, which is why we can’t live without them.
3. Bacteria and Viruses Aren’t the Same
Believe it or not, bacteria and viruses are far from being the same organisms. As a matter of fact, bacteria are living organisms, while viruses aren’t. The only way that a virus can become semi-living is by finding a host, and the only life-like characteristic that it gains than is the ability to reproduce. Since they’re completely different in their structure and way of operation, treating bacterial and viral infections use different methods.
4. You Can’t Cure a Cold of Viral Infection, But You Need to Treat That of Bacterial Infection
When we get a cold or flu, most of us go for an antibiotic course to treat the infection, but that’s a mistake. A cold from a viral infection can’t be treated; you can only take medications to ease its symptoms. There are more than 100 viruses that can infect you with a cold, so making a cold vaccine is really pointless. On the other hand, bacterial infections that result in the cold should be treated right away to avoid complications, and these are the kinds of infections that require an antibiotic.
5. You Have to Finish your Antibiotic Course
Bacteria are smart organisms, very smart. When they realize you’re using a drug to kill them, they’ll try to evolve so that they can become resistant to its effects. Antibiotics are the drugs of choice to kill or stop the growth of bacteria, and they’re prescribed as full courses that need to be completed. If you quit on your course before it’s supposed to end, what you’re doing is giving the infectious bacteria a taste of its lethal weapon, but not really enough to kill every last one of them. The remaining ones evolve and develop resistance to this antibiotic, so the next time you get something as simple as a cold, then even super drugs won’t work on this new strain of bacteria. Long story short: Finish your antibiotics for God’s sake!
6. Not All Bacteria are Bad
The fact of the matter is that many of the good bacteria get caught up in the hate toward the bad ones. It’s time to clear this misunderstanding: not all bacteria are bad. In fact, you probably wouldn’t be able to make it a few days without the useful bacteria living in your digestive tract. In case you’re wondering, you have around 100 trillion bacteria living there, some of which are bad, but most of them are either beneficial or harmless.
7. There are More Organisms on Your Skin than there are Humans on Earth
Speaking of bacteria and microorganisms, here’s a fact for the health fanatics. Your skin alone contains more microorganisms than the number of living human beings combined together. No matter how much you wash your hands or clean up, you can never get rid of them; they’re everywhere. But we’ve already gone through how most of these bacteria are basically harmless, so don’t worry.
8. Scientists are Trying to Reverse Engineer the Dinosaurs
You read that right. There’s a branch of life sciences that focus on studying all the life forms that are no longer present and its Paleontology. The paleontologists of today have been working fervently in trying to reverse-engineer dinosaurs from their living descendants, the chickens. By studying their fossils and remains, they can reconstruct how they looked and lived, and even build theories about how they died.
9. The Body is the Most Complicated Machine to Exist
Whether it’s your body or the body of any living organism, it’s the best-designed machine to have ever been created. The number of physiological functions happening every fraction of a second can never be truly comprehended. That’s why there are branches designed specifically to study anatomy, physiology, muscle mechanics, neurology, biochemistry, and many other functions carried out by the body.
10. Body Cells are a World of their Own
What’s even more, that once you breakdown the body into its smallest constituent: the cells, you’ll find out that it’s a world of its own. There was a reason that you learned in school how mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, but that’s not even the start of it.
11. You Can’t Taste Food Without Saliva
Here’s an interesting fact about how you eat. Without saliva, you won’t even be able to taste the food. You could eat a colocynth and not even taste its bitterness. This is due to the fact that, in order to taste the food, the chemicals present in it have to dissolve in your saliva first. Only then would you taste it.
12. Humans and Gorillas Are Cousins, Technically Speaking
According to science, we belong to the class Mammalia (mammals) of the Animal Kingdom. There are more than 4500 different species of mammals today, but humans belong to one specific family: Hominidae. This family also includes gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans. Humans, homo sapiens, belong to a different subtribe known as Hominina.
13. You Share 99% of your DNA with Other Humans
You must have heard by now about Genetics, or at least, how all of our characteristics are determined by our DNA. This means that the way you look is determined by your genes, and it’s even possible that the way you are is predetermined genetically. What you don’t realize is that, despite all our differences, we’re so much alike. In fact, you share 99% of your DNA with every other living human on this earth!
14. Lilies are Fatal to Cats
If you’re both a cat and a nature lover, make sure to inspect the kind of plants you grow at home. As it turns out, chocolate and coffee aren’t the only things that are fatal to cats. Lilies can be fatal to cats in small amounts. All it takes is eating two leaves, and the damage can be irreversible if left untreated for a couple of days.
15. You Shiver to Produce Heat
Have you ever wondered why your body starts shaking in cold weather? As it turns out, this is your body’s natural protection against the cold. In cold weather, the body resorts to turning the energy stored in your fat cells into heat by shaking, which can also be explained by how energy can convert from one form (kinetic) to another (heat). A pro tip: sleeping in cold weather helps you burn fat! But it’s also uncomfortable, so you do your own math.
16. Your Body Releases Natural Cannabinoids
Cannabinoids; those beautiful substances that get you high. You might know their effect if you smoked, or saw someone smoking, marijuana. But marijuana isn’t the only way to reap the benefits of these amazing chemicals; our bodies release them on its own. To be specific, these chemicals are most commonly known to be released after good workout sessions.
17. Your Appendix is Useful
Contrary to popular belief, your appendix is useful. After a long time of research, science has finally found that the appendix is useful for gut microbiota, the bacteria living in the intestines. As a matter of fact, the appendix is like their lounge break area; that’s where they take a break from their work in your guts and have time to reproduce. You can still live without it, but it turns out, it’s useful after all!
18. We Sleep to Rest Our Body but Work our Brains
The most surprising fact about sleep is that, while it gives every part of your body to relax and recover, this is the time that your brain becomes the most active. During your sleep, your brain keeps working on a boosted efficiency to connect everything you’ve learned when you’re awake, which is exactly why sleep is important to learning and memorizing.
19. We’re in the Sixth Mass Extinction
Dinosaurs aren’t the only species that have gone extinct in the history of the earth. They were wiped out in the Cretaceous, which was the fifth mass extinction. While extinctions take billions of years to occur, the way we’re going about in failing to preserve the nature around us is alarming. It may be inevitable, but we can try our best to halt it by preserving the environment.
20. Spiders Are Just as Disgusted by You as You are By Them
You probably never thought about it, but spiders are just as disgusted by you as you are by them. As soon as you touch any of them, they’ll jump away and seek their hideout immediately to clean themselves from the germs they acquired by your touch.
21. Scientists are Getting Inspired by Venoms
On a weird note, scientists always manage to find inspiration in the scariest of places. This is exactly what’s happening now, as scientists and chemists are trying to analyze the venoms of different species and learn from them. This can be explained by the outstanding efficiency in which venoms, which are basically made out of complicated proteins, quickly exert their effects on their target cells. By understanding how venom works, the future of drug design can change significantly.
22. There is a Lot We Don’t Know
Despite everything we’ve come to understand, the world of living beings remains a mystery for the bigger part. Out of the estimated 8.7 billion species of animals, we’ve only discovered 1.2 million species. We’re just on the verge of quantum biology and how it plays a significant role in our lives. The more we explore, the more we realize that what we know is nothing compared to what’s out there.
Studying life sciences fill you with knowledge. The amount of information that’s waiting to be excavated is enormous, and you’ll never realize that until you start looking for it. Life sciences give you a closer look at life in all of its forms, which will make you appreciate the simplest of actions and phenomena. We go about our everyday lives oblivious to the magic happening inside and all around us. If only we knew what was going on, then maybe we’d believe in magic.