"Biology is the most powerful technology ever created. DNA is software, protein are hardware, cells are factories." -Arvind Gupta

The more we move along in the digital age, the more comfortable and familiar all of us become with technology. Even older ones who were not born with electronic devices all around them know the difference between models of cellphones, which are the most popular video game consoles, and how external hard drives can be used to liberate space on your computer or phone.

Technology can be learned at school through computer science, and it is helpful to navigate electronic devices that are constantly updated. 

However, did it ever cross your mind that before technological aspects existed in the modern era, a more complex form of technology known as biology existed? We doubt it. However, aligning with the quote mentioned at the outset, biology was first created and, in a way, is the technology of the natural world. Thus, many parallels can be made between technological aspects and biological topics.

So, without further ado, in today's article, we'll learn more about two forms of biology, known as experimental and theoretical and how we can identify the differences between them.

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Why Be Interested in Biology

Through an accurate study of biology, we can better understand the human body. (Source: Unsplash)

With so many academic disciplines to study, people spend their entire lives learning at further education centres and only scratch the surface. That is why you need to prioritise and select only a few topics to analyse during your formative years. Such as?

Whether you decide to further your knowledge of a few subjects during your university years or with a private tutor, we strongly suggest that biology is at the top of your list. With the support of some investigation from the Bio Explorer website, the following are a few bulletproof reasons that demonstrate why biology is worth learning more about:

  • Biology Answers Massive Questions About Life: for curious wanderers who are constantly asking themselves questions about life and how things came to exist, the study of biology is the perfect discipline to examine since it provides a lot of answers to the natural world's most profound questions.
  • Solves Important Issues: for some, learning biology can be the solution to understanding some of the world's biggest problems that can be tried to be solved through science. For example, biologists are consulted to deal with environmental issues such as climate change.
  • Opens the Door to Many Careers: if you've taken the time to study biology at a secondary or university level, you have attained qualifications that may set you up for a wide variety of professions such as a doctor, a chemist, an engineer, an environmentalist, a nurse, a psychologist, or a teacher, to name a few.
  • A Better Understanding of the Human Body: instead of being confused as to what is happening to the human body, through an examination of biology, students can learn about where all their organs are and how they work together in the most awe-inspiring way; indeed a remarkable way to develop an appreciation for how our bodies were made!

If any of the previously mentioned reasons pique your curiosity, we highly recommend taking the time to review the basics of biology.

What is... Experimental Biology?

experimental biology
Experimental biologists conduct a lot of their hands-on research in the lab. (Source: Unsplash)

Before discussing the primary differences between experimental and theoretical biology, it is critical to define each one of them. Furthermore, since biology is an extensive academic discipline with so many different branches of study, it becomes necessary to pinpoint some of the topics separately to comprehend better how they are used in daily life.

For instance, the following list boasts a few of the different kinds of biology:

  • Botany, 
  • Zoology, 
  • Microbiology, 
  • Marine biology, 
  • Sociobiology, 
  • Experimental biology.

While we could include many more types of biology, let's focus on experimental biology and answer the question, what is experimental biology? In the most simple of terms, experimental biology can be defined as biology that involves experiments and many trials to comprehend biological phenomena better.

Therefore, when experiments and investigation are concerned with exploring an aspect of the natural world, a peruses experimental biology. 

Since biology is a scientific discipline with much room for development and growth, it's worth mentioning that experimental biology is one of the purest and detailed studies of biology. To take part in experiments and to uncover the secrets of the natural world, there are various methods employed in experimental biologies, such as the following:

  • Molecular, 
  • Biochemical, 
  • Biophysical, 
  • Microspocical, 
  • Microbiological.

There are many techniques employed by experts in the field of experimental biology to uncover new truths. It's worth mentioning that although modern technology might be used to help biologists, a lot of the work completed by experimental biologists is hands-on, which may be different from other fields.

Experimental biologists are pioneers in biology, and their work should be applauded since what they explore and test out is not always successful.

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What is... Theoretical Biology?

biologists are hardworking
Theoretical biologists use mathematics to uncover complex topics of science. (Source: Unsplash)

Now that we understand the definition of experimental biology and how it is used to comprehend the natural world better, we need to discover how theoretical biology works to know the differences between the two. Because, remember, although they are both topics of biology, they may significantly differ.

So, what is theoretical biology, and how is it used? If you're like me and have no idea about the many definitions of unique types of biology, it is essential to state that theoretical biology is defined as a branch of biology that uses theoretical analysis, mathematical models and various abstractions of living organisms to explore the principles that govern the structure, development and behaviour of distinct systems. 

It's worth highlighting that theoretical biology is the opposite of experimental biology since theoretical biology deals more deeply with mathematics and not experiments to see whether a biological hypothesis can be proven or not.

Theoretical biology has many different names, such as the following:

  • Mathematical biology,
  • Biomathematics. 

When it is called mathematical biology or biomathematics, it is to stress that mathematics is needed in this subtopic. While, on the other hand, when the term theoretical biology is utilised, it highlights the biological characteristics of the discipline.

Though the terms are interchangeable to describe the same subtopic of biology, theoretical biology deals more with theories of biology and how to solve them. Biomathematics emphasises the need for maths to solve complex biological mysteries.

By using mathematics and precise mathematical models, new techniques have been developed by scientists who study theoretical biology. Of course, it goes without saying that you need to be good at maths to have any success with biomathematics.

However, it's worth stating that although biology is a study of science and how the natural world functions, theoretical biology reminds us that using maths is interchangeable when making biological theories.

Some specific subdisciplines of theoretical biology may include the following:

  • Abstract relational biology, 
  • Algebraic biology, 
  • Complex systems biology, 
  • Mathematical biophysics,
  • Organisational biology. 

It is essential to mention that although theoretical biology has been studied for centuries, in recent years, it has been more carefully studied. How's that? Some advancements in the world of technology have made it more possible to calculate insanely large numbers. Also, recent interest in scientific studies such as genomics and chaos theory have invigorated the practices of biomathematics.

Before concluding this section, it's worth highlighting that although you might not have heard about it until now, theoretical biology is frequently used and shows no signs of slowing down!

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Identifying the Differences Between Experimental and Theoretical Bio

After having gone through the basics of both experimental and theoretical biology, it's safe to say that we now have a more comprehensive understanding of them, and we are now ready to identify the differences between experimental and theoretical bio.

Though experimental and theoretical biology are both branches in the field of biology, they are opposite and they boast the following differences:

  1. Theoretical or mathematical biology involves a lot of maths equations and theory, whereas experimental biology uses less, 
  2. Experimental biology involves a lot of trial and error experiments in the lab, whereas theoretical biology often uses computers and equations to get to the bottom of a biological matter, 
  3. Theoretical biology has various subdisciplines such as algebraic and organisational biology that are not used in experimental biology, 
  4. The practices of experimental biology are ones that persons think of when they ponder the basics of biology, whereas biomathematics might seem more like a maths subject than having to do with science,
  5. Experimental biology requires a lot of time in the laboratory conducting hands-on work. However, theoretical biology can be completed in an office by using the correct type of computer software. 
  6. Experiment biology requires a lot of organic matter. Biomathematics may involve pictures or digital renderings. 

The six previously mentioned differences are the most striking. However, if you ask an expert in biology, they are likely to give you many more contrasts that can be quickly identified.

Albeit it is beneficial to analyse the differences between one type of biology and another to fully comprehend how vast the topic of biology is, one thing is sure: experts in both experimental and theoretical biology are determined to help us better understand our giant blue planet.

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Brentyn

Avid movie-goer, reader, skier and language learner. Passionate about life, food and travelling.