Facts On File’s Encyclopedia of Biology

DonRittner & Timothy L. McCabe, Ph.D.

Facts On Science Library

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Book Details
 2.00 USD
 417 p
 File Size
 6,837 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 2004 by Don Rittner  

Despite the often extreme specialization and intimate knowledge required
to make a contribution to science, most scientific disciplines are quick to
adapt new technologies and advances developed from other fields.
Inevitably, a new vocabulary follows these advances, the purpose of which
is to convey meaning with a word that once required a descriptive paragraph
or even a page.

The Encyclopedia of Biology pulls together the specialized terminology
that has found its way into the language of the biologist. It addresses
the often duplicitous meanings in an easily understood, succinct fashion.

As each discipline has become more of a specialty, each has developed
terms that serve as a shorthand for concepts within that discipline. On rare
occasion, different disciplines develop the same term with radically different
definitions. By indicating a discipline, the encyclopedia directs the
reader to a definition relevant to the topic at hand. An example of this is
the word genotype. Historically, this was a taxonomist’s term meaning
“the type of the genus.” The genotype is important for classification and
evolutionary studies. Subsequently, geneticists used genotype to refer to
the genetic makeup of an organism. One needs to understand not only the
meaning of words, but must also be able to put them in the context of the
period in which they were written.

There will be new terms, new (and defunct) science Websites, new
leaders, new disciplines, and even breathtaking new discoveries in science,
but these will not detract from the utility of this encyclopedia. Bibliophiles
need only pause to consider which books they consult most frequently.
The reference book holds counsel over all others. Facts On File’s Encyclopedia
of Biology may not read like a novel, but it will help you read like a biologist.
—Tim McCabe, Ph.D.

Facts On File’s Encyclopedia of Biology is a reference to help in understanding
the basic concepts in biology and its peripheral disciplines like
ecology, botany, and even Earth science. Arranged in alphabetical order,
the entries include biographies of individuals who have made major contributions
as well as numerous line illustrations and photographs to help in
visualizing technical concepts.

I have tried to include the more common terms you will likely
encounter during your educational experience or even when you are out in
the “real” world. There are literally thousands of biological terms. Many
are so specific to major or minor subdisciplines of biology that you may
never encounter them. You will not find those esoteric terms in this encyclopedia
but, rather, a collection of terms that you should be familiar with
to understand core biological principles and have a working knowledge of
the field. You can also use this volume simply to increase your scientific
vocabulary. A series of well-placed essays elaborate on some of the most
important trends and issues in the field. One of these describes how the use
of computer technology has revealed an artificial toe in a mummy that is
thousands of years old. You will also learn how blood is used in forensic
science to capture criminals and read about the latest trends in human
cytogenetics. Other essays will make you think about your role in the
world and explore some of the negative effects we humans have had on the
biological world, in particular to the insect family.
The encyclopedia also includes appendixes with information about
Internet Websites and biology-related software that is waiting for you to explore.

We humans are part of this immense biological world, and we interact
with it in many ways. Some of those interactions have cost species their
very existence. Some have helped us survive disease. In other cases, we
have helped species come back from the brink of extinction. This complex
interrelationship is not clearly understood even today, and that is why
many who use this book are pursuing some aspect of biology as a career.

We have come a long way from Robert Hooke’s first observation of a
cell under a crude microscope to today’s observations of atomic-level
activity using electron microscopes. The use of computer science and technology
has enabled huge leaps in our understanding of our biological
world. The future hope of nanotechnology, using small robots to scurry
through our bodies to fix organs or cure disease, is closer to becoming
reality than it is to fiction. Other former sci-fi issues, like cloning humans,
are on the forefront of discussion, and some have even claimed human
cloning has happened. The mapping of our entire genetic makeup brings
promise to thousands of people who have or carry genetically based disease.

This has led at least one scientist to declare that we are moving into
the “industrial revolution of biology,” anticipating the exciting discoveries
just around the corner from the analysis of all this genetic information.
We are entering a world of molecular understanding of developmental
biology all the way to the enigma of consciousness. But you cannot leap
without first taking small steps. Use this book for the small steps, and
heed the words of Cornell biologist James G. Needham (1888–1957),
who once wrote:
It is a monstrous abuse of the science of biology to teach it only in
the laboratory—Life belongs in the fields, in the ponds, on the
mountains, and by the seashore.
So, armed with this book, consider that your next assignment.
—Don Rittner
Schenectady, New York

Table of Contents
Entries A–Z
Feature Essays:
Blood Identification through the Ages
by John C. Brenner and Demetra Xythalis
Human Cytogenetics: Historical Overview and
Latest Developments”
by Betty Harrison
The Karner Blue—New York’s Endangered Butterfly
by Robert Dirig
Insects and Man—An Exotic Dilemma
by Timothy L. McCabe, Ph.D.
Science and the Spiritual Factor
by John McConnell
Silk Degrees: A Tale of Moths and People, Part One
by James G. (Spider) Barbour
Sassafras and Its Lepidopteran Cohorts, or Bigger and Better Caterpillars
through Chemistry
by Timothy L. McCabe, Ph.D.
Silk Degrees: A Tale of Moths and People, Part Two
by James G. (Spider) Barbour
Egyptian Mummies: Brief History and Radiological Studies
by William A. Wagle, M.D.
Appendix I
Appendix II
Biology-Related Websites
Appendix III
Biology Software and Animations Sources
Appendix IV
Nobel Laureates Relating to Biology
Appendix V
Periodic Table of the Elements
Appendix VI
Biochemical Cycles
Appendix VII
The “Tree of Life”

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