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The study of cell biology began with the discovery of the cell by Robert Hooke in 1665. Since then, constantly improving technology has allowed scientists to unlock the secrets of the cell.

Developments in Cell Biology

The discovery of cells and the development of the cell theory happened at the beginning of a revolutionary time in the history of science. Before the invention of the microscope, many questions about what makes up living and nonliving things could not be answered. Once cells could be observed, these questions could be explored. Scientists could then turn their attention to finding out how cells function. Figure 4-3 lists some of the major events in the history of cell biology.

The Cellular Basis of Life

Microscopes helped biologists clarify our definition of life. All living things share several basic characteristics. All living things consist of organized parts, obtain energy from their surroundings, perform chemical reactions, change with time, respond to their environments, and reproduce.

In addition, living things must be able to separate their relatively constant internal environment from the ever-changing external environment. The ability to maintain a constant internal environment, called homeostasis, will be discussed later. Finally, all living things share a common history. All cells share characteristics that indicate that cells are related to other living things.

figure 4-3

The study of cell biology began with the discovery of the cell by Robert Hooke in 1665. Since then, constantly improving technology has allowed scientists to unlock the secrets of the cell.

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