Life sciences are perhaps the most essential subjects related to the well-being and longevity of the human race. It may sound like hyperbole, but the fact remains that these are branches of science that directly influence the outcome of the species and the planet over time. From astrobiology to zoology and everything in between, life sciences discover, direct and develop ways for our world to thrive and humans to prosper.
What Are The Main Life Sciences?
There are no "main" branches of life science, but a few stand out for their impact on humanity. Overall, there are over 41 branches that relate to everything under the sun (literally). Furthermore, there are numerous life science consulting companies that specialize in specific components and their particular application. This could include studying how chemicals interact with certain medicines to how plastics degrade in the ocean and affect the food chain; it's that diverse! Some that are of interest to the human species in particular include:
- Biology: The overall study of life, flora, and fauna and how they interact.
- Bacteriology: The study of bacterial organisms, how they evolve and reproduce.
- Virology: The study of viruses that have taken on a particular urgency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Biotechnology: The study of how biology can use technology to diagnose and cure illness. Blood glucose monitors for people with diabetes are an excellent example of this.
- Biological oceanography: The study of how the ocean system affects life. This is a larger field than people give it credit for because, ultimately, it is the oceans that sustain us.
- Developmental biology: The study of how cells develop from conception to growth.
- Genetics: The study of genes and heredity. This branch studies genetic disorders and hereditary ones.
- Immunology: The study of how immune systems work and how to improve them.
- Neuroscience: This is a multidisciplinary science that focuses primarily on the nervous system.
- Pharmacology: The study of how certain drugs interact with our bodies.
There are many more equally important branches, but too many to list for this post. Nonetheless, the critical point is that they all focus on interactions between biological lifeforms and how they react to stimuli.
Why Is Life Science Important?
Due to this subject covering a range of scientific branches, it is safe to say that the study of life science impacts almost anything that you do in your life. For example, suppose you have a headache. In that case, you will reach for the Paracetamol, or if you go for the household cleaner to destroy the mold growing in your bathroom, that is the result of Mycology (the study of fungi). Essentially, anything you do or have ever done has been influenced in some way by life science. Additionally, the different branches will work together to create new things. For example, if someone has lost their hand in a work accident and require an implant or prosthetic of the robotic sort, it will be the branches of:
- Neuroscience: To help the nervous system to connect to the prosthetic to control it better.
- Immunology: To stop the body from rejecting any electronic implants.
- Toxicology: To ensure that the prosthetic material isn't hazardous.
- Anatomy: To understand how the hand interacts and works to get a better prosthetic.
- Biomechanics: To get as close to the natural movement of the hand as possible.
- Histology: To ensure that the remaining tissue stays well-circulated with blood.
- Pharmacology: The medicines needed to keep the amputated area healthy.
- Pathology: To ensure that there is no other underlying injury.
- Systems biology: To understand how the body can create the required electrical signals to move the robotic hand.
This is an oversimplified explanation, and there are numerous other branches at play, but it shows how connected each subject is.
Understanding Who We Are
Humans have been asking themselves this fundamental question since they could think about what they are and why they exist. Although this question may never be answered or is too esoteric in nature, life sciences can shine some light on it. Humans have come closer than ever before to understand some of these universal questions through studying specific life sciences. Some of the branches involved include:
- Astrobiology: This has been vital in answering whether humans arrived via Panspermia, i.e., if Earth was seeded from space. While it doesn't answer how life is created, it can help understand if it can survive the extremes of space.
- Biolinguistics: This seeks to explain the formation of language and how biology has influenced a specific method of communication. The leading proponent, Naom Chomsky, has theorized that in all humans, languages are created by a biologically determined ability, or language is inherent in all humans. Research is ongoing.
- Biological anthropology: This examines humans' biological, psychological, and behavioral features concerning evolution.
- Evolutionary biology: Most people will understand this subject. It studies how humans have evolved and what processes have influenced it.
How Does It Help The Planet?
Life sciences are involved in ensuring the continuation of the species as an island separate from the planet. Still, it also focuses on how planetary systems interact with each other and result in specific outcomes. For example, astrobiology looks at how life is created and whether it can exist outside the planet. Additionally, botany is the study of plants and what makes them grow and what makes them die. These things have profound effects on how we live. For example, the study of botany, Bioinformatics, Cell biology, and a raft of other branches can help to increase crop yields by developing more potent fertilizers and pesticides less harmful to the environment.
In addition, new materials are being created, and new methods developed that attempt to reduce the human impact on the world. These developments can include creating recyclable materials to build synthetic bacteria that can degrade materials not fit for recycling. Furthermore, certain bacteria are being developed to consume CO2 to reduce greenhouse gasses, although research is still ongoing and has had limited success thus far.
Life sciences cover such a broad range of subjects that it is inevitable that its reach will touch something pertinent to your lives. It is essential in creating new, sustainable products, discovering who we are as a species, all the way to understanding how specific chemicals react to the more abstract ideas emanating from theoretical biology.