Big biology ideas
Sir Paul Nurse won the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology in 2001 for his work on the genes that control cell division. Here, Sir Paul explains some of the key ideas in biology, such as cells, genes and evolution.
In 2006, Sir Paul toured New Zealand as part of a speaking tour organised by the Royal Society of New Zealand in conjunction with the Royal Society (London). He spoke in various locations through New Zealand
During his lecture, he spoke about The Five Great Ideas of Biology and in the last lecture students were able to ask questions.
See below for a summary of the main points from his lecture.
Cells are the basic building blocks of life. It is hard for us now to imagine scientists not knowing about cells, but until microscopes were developed, they couldn’t be seen, let alone described or observed.
Go to information sheet: The first big idea: The cell
Why do offspring resemble their parents? The discovery of the molecule that is passed from a parent to their offspring was a key development in biology.
Go to information sheet: The second big idea: The gene
Evolution is the process of change in an organism that occurs over a long period of time.
Go to information sheet: The third big idea: Evolution
Organisms carry out a complex set of chemical reactions in order to function.
Go to information sheet: The fourth big idea: Life as chemistry
DNA has a famous and distinct structure that obeys all the laws of chemistry. This structure gives DNA the ability to store complex information and pass it on to future generations.
Go to information sheet: The fifth big idea: Biological organisation
After Sir Paul Nurse’s lecture on The Five Great Ideas of Biology, the audience were invited to ask questions. Students from Wellington Girls’ High School made the most of this opportunity.
Go to information sheet: High school students ask the questions
- 16 November 2007