Q:

What is the smallest unit of life?

A:

Quick Answer

The smallest unit of life is the cell. While there are other building blocks smaller than a cell, such as organelles and quarks, a cell is the smallest structure that functions independently. It can also replicate and perform all the necessary functions of life.

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Full Answer

A common term for a cell is that it is a "building block of life." Cells are made up of membranes that surround a sac of fluid, and the study of cells is called cell biology. The cell was discovered in 1665 by Robert Hooke. He named the structure after the cells that were inhabited by monks in a monastery.

Millions of cells make up the organs and tissues found in humans, as well as animals and plants. The organs and tissues work together to make up a body, or an individual person. Various races of humans make up a population, and different populations live together to form a community. The "population" and "community" designation apply to animals and plants as well.

Communities of non-living and living things interact with each other, forming an ecosystem. Other building blocks, such as air, earth and water, work together to form the ecosystem. Many different ecosystems combine together to form the biosphere, or the zone of life on Earth.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is cell theory?

    A:

    Cell theory is the scientific theory that describes the properties of cells, primarily that the cell is the basic unit of life, and all living things are made of cells and all cells come from pre-existing cells. Modern cell theory is the result of centuries of research and experimentation facilitated by the invention of the microscope. Cell theory dispels the past myth of spontaneous generation or life coming from nothing.

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  • Q:

    Cell biology concerns which aspects of a cell?

    A:

    Cell biology is a discipline that views the cell as the fundamental unit of life and studies cell structure and function. It seeks to elucidate properties of cells that are universal to all or most cells as well as unique properties that are limited to a small subset of specialized cells.

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  • Q:

    What are the three parts of the cell theory?

    A:

    The three fundamental propositions of classical cell theory are that the cell is the most basic unit of life, all life is made up of cells and cells are formed only by other cells. Each tenet of this theory is important to understanding the way living things function on every level.

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  • Q:

    What is the Hans and Zacharias Janssen Cell Theory?

    A:

    The cell theory states that the cell is the basic unit of life. Hans and Zacharias Jansen greatly contributed to the various parts of this theory by inventing the first microscope.

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