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Living organisms are causal mechanisms whose functions are to be understood by applications of the laws of physics and chemistry. The cell is the basic unit of life. Life requires information flow within and between cells and between the environment and the organism. Living organisms must obtain matter and energy from the external world. This matter and energy must be transformed and transferred in varied ways to build the organism and to perform work. Homeostasis (and “stability” in a more general sense) maintains the internal environment in a more or less constant state compatible with life. Understanding the behavior of the organism requires understanding the relationship between structure and function (at each and every level of organization). Living organisms carry out functions at many different levels of organization simultaneously. All life exists within an ecosystem made up of the physiochemical and biological worlds. Evolution provides a scientific explanation for the history of life on Earth and the mechanisms by which changes to life have occurred.
THEMES: Structure and function of the body, and the connection between the two. Homeostasis, the body’s natural tendency to maintain a stable internal environment. Levels of Organization, the major levels of organization in the human organism from the chemical and cellular levels to the tissues, organs and organ systems. Integration of Systems, concerning which systems are subsets of larger systems, and how they function together in harmony and conflict.
The vital functions for human life are: Exchange of substances and information with the environment Transport within the body Structure, support, and movement Control and regulation Growth and reproduction All multicellular organisms need these vital functions to operate properly in order to survive.