Living Thing Biology Living things make up the world as we know it. Living things are involved in our life constantly, seeing that we are alive. There are five characteristics that are common to all living things. Living things are made up of one or more cells. Each cell is made up of living matter and is separated by a barrier that encloses the cell from its surroundings. However, there are many different kinds of cells that make up living things.
A single cell can be one organism. These organisms are known as unicellular. Most of the organisms that we know best such as people, trees, and dogs are all made up of more than one cell. Organisms made of more than one cell are said to be multicellular. Another characteristic that living things share is that they reproduce. They reproduce, or make new organisms of the same sort. In order for a species to survive, it is a necessity for them to reproduce because all organisms die eventually.
There are two ways living things reproduce, sexually and asexually. Sexual reproduction needs two cells from two different organisms to merge and form the first cell of a new organism. Asexual reproduction is when only one organism can reproduce without the assistance of another. The third characteristic of living things, is that all living things need to grow and develop. When an organism is growing, most go through a cycle called development. The single cell that starts the cell divides over and over again to make all the cells that the organism has when in adulthood.
As the cycle continues the organism ages. Aging is when the organism becomes less efficient in the process of life. The organism will not be able to reproduce, and death comes as finally too. The fourth characteristic of a living thing is the ability to obtain and use energy. Living things obtain energy from their environment or their surroundings.
All living things require energy to live and build their cells. This process is anabolism. Anabolism is the process in a living thing that involves putting together complex substances from simpler substances. Plants get their energy from the sunlight through a process called photosynthesis. Animals get their energy from food that is eaten. The food is then broken down through digestion, resulting in a release of energy called catabolism. Living things practice anabolism and catabolism through the whole time they are living. The balance of anabolism and catabolism is called metabolism.
The fifth and final characteristic that all living things share is that all living things respond to their environment. Response to their environment can be sudden, through behavior, or gradual, in metabolic process or growth. Stimulus is anything in the environment that causes a living thing to react. Stimuli include light, temperature, odor, gravity, sound, water, and pressure. Plants generally act to stimuli slower than animals. The process in which living things respond to stimuli in ways to keep conditions in their body suitable for life is homeostasis.
These five characteristics of living things are just the basics to knowing what makes up living things. Atomic Structure of Living Things The basic unit of matter is the atom. Atoms are extremely small, in fact, if you placed 100 million atoms in a row one after the other, it would be one centimeter long. Even though the atom is small it consists of even smaller particles, called subatomic particles. Scientists believe that there is at least 200 subatomic particles. The three main subatomic particles are the neutron, proton, and electron.
In the middle of the atom there is a nucleus. The nucleus makes up 99.9 percent of the atoms weight even though it is a hundred times smaller than the atom itself. The nucleus contains two different kind of subatomic particles, the neutron and the proton. The proton has a positive charge and the neutron is a electrically neutral subatomic particle. Both are almost equal in mass, 1 amu (atomic mass unit). Another subatomic particle in the atom is the electron.
It is negatively charged and it’s mass is about 2000 times smaller than that of a neutron or electron. Usually the number or electron in an atom is the same as the number of protons. So, usually the atoms have not a positive nor negative charge, but they are neutral. Electron are not in the nucleus like the protons and neutrons are. They travel at very high speeds throughout the atom in energy levels. The energy levels are like orbits that surround the nucleus.
The number of protons that are in the nucleus of an atom is called the atomic number. The atomic number identifies the atom because no two atoms have the same number of protons in there nucleus. For example, hydrogen has the atomic number of 1, that means all atoms that have one proton in its nucleus is hydrogen. The atomic mass number is the number of neutrons and protons in the nucleus. To find the number on neutrons in an atom, you must round the atomic mass number to the nearest whole number and then subtract the atomic number. Remember the atomic number is the same as the number of protons in the atom.
To find out the number or electrons an atom contains, you just need to know the atomic number because there is the same number of protons as there is electrons in atoms. For example, in sodium, the atomic number is 11, and the atomic mass number is 22.98977. This means that sodium contains 11 protons, 11 electron, and 12 neutrons. (See Figure 1) Substances known as elements are made up of solely on type of atom. Scientists have discovered 109 elements, 90 were found in nature, and 19 were artificially made in laboratories by scientists. Each element is represented by a chemical symbol. Each symbol is made up of one or two letters, usually taken from the name of the element.
The symbol of oxygen is O, the symbol for phosphorus is P, and the symbol for Nitrogen is N. Most chemical elements are solid, like gold, iron, bronze, and silver to name a few. They are on the left 3/4 of the periodic table. Some elements are gases, like oxygen and carbon. They are on the right 1/4 of the periodic table.
Only a few elements are liquids, mercury and bromine are the most common. The noble gases are located all the way to the right on the periodic table. The atomic number of an element is always the same, this means that an element will always have the same number of protons. However, the number of neutrons in the nucleus may differ from one atom to the next. For example, the typical hydrogen atom contains one proton and no neutrons inside the nucleus.
Another form of hydrogen is called deuterium. It contains one proton and one neutron in the nucleus. The third form of hydrogen is sometimes referred to as tritium. Tritium has on proton and two neutrons in the nucleus of the atom. Even though the atomic mass number may change the atomic number of hydrogen will be 1, and it will still have one proton and one electron.
An isotope is an atom with the same number of protons and electrons but a different number of neutrons from the same element. Isotopes are represented by putting a number in front of the atomic symbol of that atom. The number represents the atomic mass. Regular hydrogen is written 1H, deuterium is 2H, and tritium is 3H. Compounds and Molecules When elements combine to form substances of consisting of two or more atoms, chemical compounds are produced. A chemical compound deals with the combination of two or more atoms in definite proportions.
Most materials in living things happen to be compounds, so they are very important to us. Chemical compounds are represented just as elements are with chemical symbols. A chemical formula is made up of the chemical symbols that make the chemical compound. For example, water contains two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. The chemical formula would be H2O. Table salt is made from one sodium atom and one chlorine atom, so the chemical formula is NaCl.
Chemical compounds are formed by the interaction of atoms. Chemical bonding is the process in which atoms interact and combine. An important factor in chemical bonding is the number of electrons in an atom’s outermost energy level. Each energy level can only hold a certain number of electrons. The innermost energy level, or first energy level can hold only two electrons. The second energy level can hold eight electrons.
The third holds eighteen electrons, the fourth and fifth energy levels hold up to thirty-two electrons. The sixth energy level can bear eighteen electron, the seventh energy level can hold eight electrons. The eighth and outermost energy level can accommodate for a mere two electrons. In order for there to be electrons in outer energy levels, the inner energy levels must be full. There can’t be 1 electron on the first energy level and five on the second.
It would have to be two on the first energy level and four electrons on the second. When the electrons of an atom fill the outermost energy level they are said to be stable, or unreactive. These atoms will not bond with other atoms to form chemical bonds. In order for an atom to become stable, it will either have to lose or gain electrons to make it’s outermost energy level complete. There is one other way an atom can be stable.
It will be stable if it’s outermost energy level contains eight electrons. One type of bond to make atoms stable is called an ionic bond. An ionic bond is a bond that involves the transfer of electrons. The name comes from the word ion. Ion means charged particles.
Ions are produced when ionic bonds occur. For example, sodium has only one electron on its outermost energy level and chlorine has seven on its outermost energy level. These two atoms want to bond in order to become stable. That means it wants to get rid of it to become stable. The loss of the one electron makes a sodium ion (Na+), which is positively charged. It’s positively charged because it lost one of it’s negatively charged electrons.
Thus, the electrons and protons don’t balance, because now there is one more proton than electron, so the ion has a positive charge. The addition of one electron makes a negatively charged chlorine ion (Cl-). The two ions are oppositely charged and now have an intense attraction to each other. The attraction is caused by the transfer of electrons that holds the ions together in an ionic bond. (See Figure 2) A different type of bond is called a covalent bond.
A covalent bond is formed when atoms share electrons in order to become stable. The shared electrons are located in the outermost energy levels of both atoms. This forms a strong bond that is in many living things. Covalent bonds can be in the form of single bonds, double, or triple. The bond between two hydrogen atoms and oxygen atom (H2O), forms a single bond. A single pair of electron is shared between the two hydrogen atoms and the oxygen atoms.
(See Figure 2) On the other hand, the compound that forms carbon dioxide (CO2), forms a double bond. The carbon atom shares two pairs of electrons, four total with the two oxygen atoms. In covalent bonds the combination of atoms that are caused from sharing form molecules. A molecule is the smallest particle of a covalently bonded compound. Besides water and carbon dioxide that were already mentioned, sugar (C6H12O6) and ammonia (NH3) are compounds. Organic compounds are compounds that contain carbon. Carbon is a unique element because of its ability to form covalent bonds that are exceptionally strong and stable.
The carbon atom has two electrons in the first energy level and four in the second energy level. There are four open positions in carbon’s outermost energy level, allowing it to form four single covalent bonds. Carbon can easily bond with hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur atoms. Carbon also has the extraordinary ability to form long chains with other carbon atoms. The bonds between carbon can be single, double, or triple covalent bonds. No other element has this rare ability. (See Figure 2) Cell Structures Cells from a living thing come in many different sizes and shapes. Even though cells differ in size and shape, certain parts of the cells are the same.
The cells of animals, plants, and other organisms have three major but basic structures in common: the cell membrane, the nucleus, and the cytoplasm. The cell membrane acts as the cell’s outer wall and protects it from it’s surroundings. It also moderates what goes in, and what comes out of the cell. The cell membrane is made up of several different types of molecules. The most important of these is lipids.
Most of the cell membrane is made up of a double layer of lipids. The cell membrane is also made up of proteins and carbohydrates. In plants the cell membrane is surrounded by the cell wall of the plant. The cell wall helps protect and support the plant. The cell wall lets water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide pass through easily.
The cell wall is made up of three layers which are extremely porous. In the majority of cells there is a dark structure we know as the nucleus. Not all cells have nuclei though. Bacteria and other small unicellular organisms don’t have a nucleus. These are said to be prokaryotes, or cells without nuclei. Cells that do have a nucleus are called eukaryotes.
The nucleus is very important …