A. Understanding Biology and Branches of Biology
Biology is the science of life. The term is taken from the Dutch “biologie”, which is also derived from the combination of the Greek words, bios (“life”) and logos (“symbol”, “science”). Formerly known as the science of life (taken from Arabic, meaning “science of life”). Do you know what are the objects of study in Biology? The object of biological study is very broad and includes all living things. Therefore, there are various branches of Biology that specialize in each group of organisms, such as botany to study plants, zoology to study animals, and microbiology to study microorganisms. Various aspects of life are discussed thoroughly through the branch of Biology, such as physical characteristics studied in anatomy (plants, animals and humans), while their functions are studied in physiology. The relationship between human beings and with the natural environment can be studied in ecology, and the mechanisms of inheritance are studied in genetics. Meanwhile, technological developments allow for studies at the molecular level that make up organisms through molecular biology and biochemistry, which are widely supported by the development of computer engineering through the field of bioinformatics. Thus it can be concluded that Biology is the study of living things and their symptoms of life.
B. Scientific Work
Science is always evolving, this is due to the basic nature of humans who always feel curious which drives them to do research. Changes may occur from time to time. Something that was previously considered true can fall if new research results have been found that correct the truth. Knowledge obtained through a study is classified in scientific knowledge. Knowledge obtained in this way is more reliable. Knowledge gained through prejudice, trial and error, intuition (inspiration) or unintentionally is classified as non-scientific knowledge. You also have the opportunity to become a scientist. You can study the experiments of previous experts and test the results, or you can start by paying attention to your surroundings, finding problems and trying to solve them. The way that can be taken is through a method known as the scientific method. The scientific method is a method that is systematically arranged to solve a problem that arises in science, as well as in Biology.
Sequentially the steps that must be done are as follows.
1. define and formulate the problem,
2. formulate hypotheses/conjectures,
3. carry out experiments (experiments),
5. collect data,
6. draw conclusions.
The first step in carrying out scientific work is to determine and formulate problems, namely what things will be studied or interestingly researched to obtain answers to these problems. After determining the problem, you can make observations to get data related to the problem to be investigated. In everyday life, we often face various natural phenomena to become a problem. For example, the speed of plant growth in the dry season with the rainy season. What is the difference? Why did the difference occur? If you notice clearly there is a difference, why is that? This question is the beginning of the formulation of the problem that we will investigate further. In formulating the problem for the experiment, the question should be more directed
on the answer “yes or no, influential or not, different or not” so that it is easier to establish hypotheses / guesses about the experiment to be carried out. An example of a problem statement is “Is there any effect of water on plant growth?”
The next step is to determine the variables (factors that are involved and affect something that is observed) contained in the problem. There are three types of variables in research activities, namely independent variables, response variables, and control variables. In the problem of “is there any effect of water on plant growth”, the volume of water given can vary. These factors are called independent variables/manipulative variables, namely variables that can be changed and affect/cause a process/symptom/event to occur. Plant growth is called the dependent variable/response variable, which is a variable that is influenced by other variables. Plant conditions (type, age, size, etc.), soil conditions and water sources used in the experiment are called control variables, namely variables outside the variables studied but need to be controlled/controlled. Before formulating a hypothesis, it’s a good idea to do a literature study, which is to find sources of knowledge related to research through library books. You can also read the results of other people’s experiments related to the experiment you are going to do, or direct observations, for example, the size of plant growth.
Hypothesis is a formulation of answers/opinions/temporary conclusions about a problem that is compiled based on limited data and information and relevant theories using reasoning. A good hypothesis always shows measurable and comparable variables. There are two kinds of hypotheses, namely the working hypothesis and the null hypothesis. Working hypothesis, for example “water affects plant growth”. The null hypothesis is “water has no effect on plant growth”. An example of the hypothesis in the experiment above is “water affects plant growth”. Before carrying out the experiment, we must first design it. Some of the activities in designing the experiment are as follows:
1. establish the necessary theoretical basis,
2. set the goal of the experiment,
3. determine the tools and materials used,
4. set the time and place,
5. establish experimental procedures/steps, and prepare tables to record observational data, assign manipulative, response and control variables.
We can use tools to obtain data. Tools that we can use include microscopes, rulers, O’Hauss balances, thermometers and others. Do you know what they are used for? Data obtained by using measuring instruments will produce quantitative values. Data can also be obtained by using our senses. The sense of sight is used to observe shapes, colors, and so on. Nose to detect the smell of an object. Ears to hear. Tongue to know the taste of something. Skin to distinguish rough, smooth, hot or cold by touching the object of research. Observations with these five senses produce qualitative values, such as durian fruit with rough and sharp skin, sweet fruit taste, soft fruit texture and fibrous. The data obtained can then be presented briefly and systematically in the form of tables or diagrams.
What can you do after your data is processed? After getting the experimental data, formulate your conclusions. The formulation of the conclusion refers to the hypothesis above, whether the hypothesis is accepted or otherwise. If the hypothesis is accepted, provide an explanation of what factors support it. If the hypothesis is rejected, state what inhibiting factors. If necessary, repeat the experiment until you are sure of the accuracy of the experiment and the accuracy of the experimental results. The next step in order to be recognized as a science, the experimental results need to be published in various forms. For example, presenting research results in front of experts in seminar forums or publishing in scientific magazines. To clarify the steps of scientific research, consider the example of the process of discovering the cause of malaria carried out by Charles Laveran (1845-1922). In 1880 in Algeria, Charles Laveran treated a soldier who suffered from a chills fever even though it was very hot at that time, then the disease was known as Malaria (mal = bad, aria = air). At that time people suspected that the cause of malaria was bad air from the swamps.
However, Charles Laveran at that time did not believe it. He wanted to prove what the real cause of malaria was. This step is called formulating the problem. He takes a small amount of blood from the patient and examines it using a microscope. Then it appears that there are small objects in the patient’s blood (this step is called observation). Laveran began to record all the blood of malaria sufferers. It turns out that in the blood of every malaria patient there are small objects as in the first patient, while in the blood of healthy people these small objects are not found. Laveran’s hypothesis based on these data was “whether small objects” (now known as Plasmodium) were the cause of malaria. Then Laveran injects the blood of a sick person into the body of a healthy person.
After a few days it turned out that a healthy person began to contract malaria, and in his blood were found small objects such as those found in malaria patients (Plasmodium). Laveran still wasn’t sure if the experiment was repeated, but the results were the same (this step is called carrying out the experiment and retesting the experiment). Finally he concluded that the small ring-shaped object contained in red blood cells (Plasmodium) was the cause of malaria.
Scientific work using the scientific method requires a scientific attitude. Scientific attitude is a commendable attitude that is upheld by the scientific community. The following points can be used as guidelines in being scientific.
1. Recognize facts and opinions, so as to be able to distinguish between data and information. For example, the scales show 46 kg, this is data, while the estimated weight of a person 46 kg is an opinion.
2. Using facts as a basis for argumentation, this ability is required when submitting an opinion supported by data.
3. Be brave and polite in asking questions and arguing.
4. Always conduct self-evaluation, acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of research data, so that they can be used to make improvements.
5. Develop curiosity, trying to ask questions about things that are not known or not yet understood. Curiosity can spur us to do research.
6. Be honest and accept the reality of the research results objectively.
7. Thorough in data collection, especially quantitative data, and diligent in conducting research means not to give up easily.
8. Concern for the natural, social and cultural environment. Try to give thought to the preservation and beauty of the natural environment, as well as environmental cleanliness.
9. Make responsible decisions. For example, with landslides that often occur, determine the causes and ways to prevent and overcome environmental damage. In expressing opinions, of course, with justifiable arguments and complete data.
For added insight, read the article below about Edward Jenner’s efforts. A Scottish man who lived from 1881-1955, the person who developed and popularized the vaccination technique to prevent smallpox.