The Role of Theory in Advancing 21st-Century Biology: Catalyzing Transformative Research

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Although its importance is not always recognized, theory is an integral part of all biological research. Biologists' theoretical and conceptual frameworks inform every step of their research, affecting what experiments they do, what techniques and technologies they develop and use, and how they interpret their data.

By examining how theory can help biologists answer questions like "What are the engineering principles of life?" or "How do cells really work?" the report shows how theory synthesizes biological knowledge from the molecular level to the level of whole ecosystems. The book concludes that theory is already an inextricable thread running throughout the practice of biology; but that explicitly giving theory equal status with other components of biological research could help catalyze transformative research that will lead to creative, dynamic, and innovative advances in our understanding of life.

 

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Inhalt

Summary
1 Introduction
2 The Integral Role of Theory in Biology
3 Are There Still New Life Forms to Be Discovered? The Diversity of LifeWhy It Exists and Why Its Important
4 What Role Does Life Play in the Metabolism of Planet Earth?
5 How Do Cells Really Work?
6 What Are the Engineering Principles of Life?
7 What Is the Information That Defines and Sustains Life?
9 How Much Can We Tell About the Pastand Predict About the Futureby Studying Life on Earth Today?
Learning to Think About the Elephant
11 Findings and Recommendations
References
Appendixes
Biographical Sketches of Committee Members
Workshop on Defining and Advancing the Conceptual Basis of Biological Science for the 21st Century
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8 What Determines How Organisms Behave in Their Worlds?

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