|Lecture Notes:: 10 September
© R. Paselk 2001
FIRST DAY: INTRODUCTION
Who am I?
- Education in Biophysics (NMR of Proteins etc in Grad Sch)
- Spent my youth as a biology "nerd" and continue
to read widely in biology.
- Web master and board member for the HSU
Natural History Museum.
- Though I have taught Bio 105 lab, this will be my first attempt
at teaching general biology.
- Also teach Biochemistry, Biochemical Toxicology; Chemical
Instrumentation and all intro Chem courses
- Interests in history of science and technology, particularly
scientific instrumentation and apparatus (Museum
in HSU Library and on Web).
How to Study:
- Most of what you will need to know will be covered in lecture
- so it is very important to attend lectures and take good notes
(the web notes may be helpful here, but should not be considered
- The textbook is meant as a supplement and a source of problems,
examples etc. You may find the author more understandable or
more compatible with your style than me, so read the chapters.
- You should do as many of the end of chapter exercises etc.
in your text as it takes to become confident of your grasp of
- Study Time/Study Skills:
- Keep in mind that most students can only study new
material for about 15 - 20 minutes without a break (even the
best can usually only go for 45 min). Even a few minutes break
will usually help.
- Want to maximize lecture efficiency since most of material
will be covered in lecture. Three traditional suggestions:
- Review the last lecture's materials just before lecture to
get your mind on track so you don't "lose" the first
- Read over your notes from lecture as soon as you can, annotating
them with things you remember but missed etc.
- At the earliest opportunity, rewrite you notes with the aid
of the on-line notes and/or your text to make an effective set
of study notes.
- Look ahead at the material to be covered, then in lecture
"think ahead of the lecturer" and see if your right!
That is, try and anticipate what is to be covered. This will
make the lecture more entertaining and engaging and thus a better
learning experience. It is one of the main characteristics shared
by top professionals in all fields as well as successful graduate
students when listening to oral presentations.
- Reward yourself for hard work - take a break to watch a
favorite show, play a short computer game, eat a favorite
- Take off at least one day for fun - guilt free (after all
your instructior, who is a Chemistry Professor told you
to, so I guess its kind of an assignment [you know what kind
of reputations they have as hard-ass types).
- Notice that much of this will be more effective if your carefully
schedule your time.
- I am modeling course after Bio 105, our introductory course
for science majors
- We don't have nearly as much time, AND I want to do some
hands-on stuff, so I'm still working out what to cover, consequently
the tentative schedule is REALLY tentative!
- You arn't expected to have a chemistry background here, but
Bio 105 students are - so DON'T FREAK OUT if it seems a bit overwhelming
at times - it should be!
- This is my first time teaching this course - this always
adds to the adventure!
- Don't hesitate to tell me I'm going to fast or over whelming
you too much - such discussion can help you get a better feel
for whether that's the nature of the subject or just me!
- With the above in mind I'm going to try to focus on the hierarchical
nature of life (at least in our conception)
- The cell is the basic unit of life
- made up from both assemblies and "networks" of
- macromolecules are polymers of smaller units, such as aminoa
acids or nucleotides, which often fold up to specific 3-D functional
- small molecules in turn are made up of atoms
- To continue life cells must replicate:
- based on information stored in an information "archive"
molecule - DNA
- replication and transmission of DNA is extraordinarily complex
to ensure precision (but organisms are also designed to function
is spite of "slop")
- Cells and organisms are "open systems" interacting
with the environment such as to gather energy and matter to create
new versions of themselves.
- Organisms are highly regulated
- Life on Earth exhibits an amazing unity
- All studied organisms use the same infromation system with
the same "language"
- All studied organisms use the same basic metabolic pathways
to generate energy from food
- All studied animals use the same mechanisms for development
- The diversity and continuity of life result from evolutionary
Science as a Way of Knowing
Biology is the scientific study of matter. So what do
we mean by science? Two common "definitions":
- The body of knowledge and rules/laws/theories we have discovered
regarding the natural world.
- The method of discovery and confirmation used by scientists.
Classically we describe this process as the "Scientific
Method" summarized in the steps below:
- Identify a problem based on initial observations
- Make a hypothesis (a tentative, testable, explanation of
- Collect data via planned Observations and/or Experiments
("asking nature a question")
- "Clean" simple experiments vs. statistical inference
- Controls - everything the same except the variable of interest.
- Analyze and Evaluate results - modify hypothesis if necessary,
and repeat data collections etc.
- Create a theory (an explanation of observations consistant
with results of experiments etc.)
- The theory is a "model of reality"
- Note we also use models which are not intended to
represent reality, but rather are used to solve particular problems
within a defined "universe" which may mimic the behavior
of a restricted subset of "reality."
Measurements & SI Units (metric system)
Significant figures: For measurements we want to be
sure we convey the precision (repeatability) of our measurements
using significant figures. [covered in lab & problem
set] You should note a couple of aspects of significant figures:
- They are only used for measured quantities,
- You will be graded on them all semester, so learn
them early and well, or you could lose a significant number of
Exponential or scientific notation: It is often convenient
to express numbers in exponential or scientific notation
to indicate significant figures, and to just avoid writing the
huge numbers of zeros we often run into in the natural world.
[covered in problem session]
SI Units: The metric system originated around
the French Revolution as a rational system of measurements to
rescue France from the chaos of pre-revolutionary measurements
and thus prevent tax collectors from cheating.
Wanted to base system on "natural" universal standards.
Thus for length they chose the size of the Earth: specifically
the meter was defined as one ten-millionth (10-7) of
the Earth's meridian (line from the S to the N pole) through Paris.
For mass the Kilogram was defined as the mass of a cube of water
0.1 meter on a side. Of course these are not convenient, so standards
were quickly created: the meter became the distance between two
lines on a platinum-iridium bar stored in a vault in Paris, while
the kilogram became a cylindrical mass of platinum-iridium stored
in the same vault.
Today the various units are defined by international agreement
to give the SI (Systéme International) units:
- Length: the meter (m) is defined as the distance light
travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 sec (note that this is truly
universal: in principle it can be determined by anyone, anytime,
anywhere in the Universe).
- Mass: the kilogram (kg) however is still based on
the International Prototype Kilogram in Paris and the derived
standard kilogram standards held by governments around the world.
- Time: the second (s) is defined today as the duration
of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation of two hyperfine levels
of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom.
- Amount of substance: the mole (mol) is defined as
the number of atoms in 0.012 kg (defined, so sig figs not restricted)
of carbon 12 atoms.
- Temperature: the kelvin (K) is defined as 1/273.15
of the thermodynamic temperature of the triple point of water.
- Electric current: the ampere is defined as the the
current which carries one coulomb (6.24146 x 1018
times the charge on an electron or proton) of charge through
a conductor in one second.
Prefixes: You should know (memorize) and be able
to interconvert the prefixes in the table below:
- Last modified 10 September 2001
- © R Paselk