To understand the mechanism of life, or how living organisms manage to reproduce, grow, move, think, eat and do whatever it is that they are doing, biologists can apply chemistry and physics to the study of life. The important foundation for any biologist who wants to understand molecular mechanisms underlying all life are based on understanding following observations:

Six elements – carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur – make up 96% of all molecules of life. The remaining elements constitute essential minerals.

Molecules show a tremendous variation in structure based on the ability of carbon atoms to link up as chains of various length, branching points, double and single bonds and forming ring shaped molecules.

These basic carbon based molecules can be combined as polymers of various length and combination creating an additional level of diversity of structure among the biological macromolecules.

Understanding the physics and chemistry of biologically important molecules allows insight into the structure and function of cells. The 20th century has made great progress in molecular biology and biochemistry. The 21st century will make great progress in putting the molecular pieces together and reconnect classical biology with molecular biology and the whole with its parts, a science called systems biology.

In this course you will learn how chemistry makes life possible! From you, to your dog, to your dinner, to the global ecosystem, all living systems are made out of atoms that obey the basic rules of chemistry. Here, you can learn about the key properties of atoms, including what particles they contain, how they are organized, and how they form chemical bonds with one another.

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