Understanding Biology vs Memorizing Biology

  • #1
Hello guys! I am new in this forum. I am an engineering student, and I've recently taken an interest in Biology. My background is a bit poor, so I bought an introductory book (https://books.google.com.ar/books/about/Biology.html?id=itHVNZicPgwC&redir_esc=y) and I got to unit 11.

I find that the contents aren't hard, but they are not "understandable". What I mean by this is that there is no logic behind anything. All the book tells you is "this is like this, because it is".

Take for example ATP production. I could memorize the entire process, but I could never say why each step is necessary, or why I even need ATP.

Should this become more clear as I move forward? Should I just keep going for now? Or is this just not that important?

Thanks for any insights you can provide!
 
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  • #2
Ygggdrasil
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Some of the answer require sophisticated understanding of organic chemistry. For example, by considering thermodynamics, the availability of enzyme mechanisms, and the physical and chemical properties of intermediates, one can rationalize the steps in many metabolic processes such as glycolysis (e.g. see https://www.nature.com/articles/nchembio.971). Chemists have also written good explanations for topics like why cells use ATP rather than other related compounds (see http://archives.evergreen.edu/webpages/curricular/2006-2007/m2o2006/seminar/westheimer.pdf).

In general, biology is a very complex field that often requires fundamental understanding of physics and chemistry to understand what exactly is going on at the molecular level. Because introductory biology textbooks are usually written assuming the reader has little physics or chemistry training, they tend to avoid providing these explanations. Often, understanding phenomena in biology will also require an understanding of evolution.
 
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  • #3
Hello Ygggdrasil. Thanks for the answer.

The first link you posted seems to answer my question quite well. All the time I spent reading the process, I was thinking "isn't there a more efficient way to do this?". Even if I thought the answer was "no", I kept wondering why.

So you are saying I need to know more (a lot more?) about the related fields that Biology relies on, like organic chemistry and thermodynamics?
 
  • #4
Ygggdrasil
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Yes, organic chemistry and physical chemistry would be useful for a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of molecular biology.
 
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  • #5
pinball1970
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Should this become more clear as I move forward? Should I just keep going for now? Or is this just not that important?
What is it you are interested in? Reproduction genetics physiology disease? Biology is a huge topic, its the study of life on earth!
 
  • #6
Yes, organic chemistry and physical chemistry would be useful for a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of molecular biology.
I see. Thanks!
What is it you are interested in? Reproduction genetics physiology disease? Biology is a huge topic, its the study of life on earth!
Nothing in particular. Just a quest I'm on to have a better understanding of the world around me.

I also like animals. I'd like to know more about zoology in the future, but that's not the main goal.
 
  • #7
pinball1970
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I see. Thanks!Nothing in particular. Just a quest I'm on to have a better understanding of the world around me.

I also like animals. I'd like to know more about zoology in the future, but that's not the main goal.
The "corner stone" of biology it is said (and I agree) is evolution so I dont think you can wrong with a decent book on the topic. "The Blind watch maker" is a classic by Richard Dawkins even though it is 30 years old

An "A" Level text book you should find interesting too, biological systems
.
Pal up with a Biology major and have a chat, revision for him and learning for you, that how I learned physics!
 
  • #8
Yeah. The book I mentioned has a whole section on evolution. I'm not trying to say that a section is enough, but it's certainly something I won't overlook. I suppose understanding evolution leads to understanding the why of the characteristics you can observe on most living organisms today.

I have the physics part down because of what I'm studying now. However, even though my chemistry is better than my Biology, it's not as nearly as good - and probably won't be - as I need it to be. From all the things I've read and studied, biology seems like the most challenging field so far.

Sadly I don't know any major. I got my hopes up with the YouTube series on Biology (Crash Course on Biology or something), but it's just a quick overview of what I read on the book anyways.

I guess I'll keep moving forward and try to find alternative sources like the one Ygggdrasil pointed out.

Thanks for the input!
 
  • #9
symbolipoint
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Hello guys! I am new in this forum. I am an engineering student, and I've recently taken an interest in Biology. My background is a bit poor, so I bought an introductory book (https://books.google.com.ar/books/about/Biology.html?id=itHVNZicPgwC&redir_esc=y) and I got to unit 11.

I find that the contents aren't hard, but they are not "understandable". What I mean by this is that there is no logic behind anything. All the book tells you is "this is like this, because it is".

Take for example ATP production. I could memorize the entire process, but I could never say why each step is necessary, or why I even need ATP.

Should this become more clear as I move forward? Should I just keep going for now? Or is this just not that important?

Thanks for any insights you can provide!
Mostly my opinion, but No; it does not get clear for everyone except for those who also study Chemistry and Biochemistry. If you are trying to approach "introductory" Biology and/or General Biology, then these are very unsatisfying for those who would prefer the precision of Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Geology and such like that. A dedicated bio course on Microbiology or Botany might seem better, and there are a few dedicated introductory level courses on these.
 
  • #10
Thanks for the reply simbolipoint. I'd like to take official courses and education, but I can't. I study/read whenever I have some free time. Luckily I have enough free time, but it's inconsistent, so I couldn't possibly follow a schedule. Maybe I'll consider it when I finish my studies. For now I'll stick to the book. After all it's worked before... :)
 

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