The science of living things over the past century has been marked by a relentless push to understand the components of life at smaller and smaller scales. The first studies of biology were embodied by the earliest agricultural and medical advances from several millennia ago. Subsequently, a better understanding of organs and plant structures provided insight into organisms. With the application of microscopy to biological sciences in the 19th century, the importance of cells as the basic building blocks of life came to be understood. The study of molecular biology began in the 1930s and quickly began providing insights into sub-cellular systems, notably the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA in 1953 by Watson and Crick. This period was followed in the latter half of the 20th century with in-depth analysis of the proteins which compose larger structures.
As the frontiers of biology are pushed to smaller and smaller scales, the lines between biological science and other disciplines are rapidly disappearing. Biological phenomena which were once understood on the cellular level are now being analyzed based on the interactions of individual molecules, what has traditionally been understood as the purview of chemistry. Physics provides insight into the fundamental forces regulating those molecular interactions. Other questions of biology can be understood through the lens of mechanical engineering, materials science, and informatics.
- Electron Microscopy
- In-Vitro Fertilization
- Liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC/MS)
- Optical Microscopy
- NSOM / SNOM
Traditionally, the bio-science field has been relatively immune to environmental concerns. Utilizing light microscopes and chemistry-based analytical techniques didn’t require high levels of precision. However, as the scale of research gets smaller and smaller the need for a stable environment increases.
High resolution imaging techniques like AFM/SPM, electron microscopy, and NSOM/SNOM require vibration isolation systems regardless of the research field in which they’re being used. Even optical microscopes can become sensitive to vibrations when pushed to high enough resolution. This sensitivity can increase when the microscope is outfitted with accessories that are popular among biologists, such as fluorescence, micro-manipulators, and micro-pipettes.
Thermal fluctuation often frustrates the measurement of biological samples. Cells behave differently or even perish depending on temperature. If there are broad thermal fluctuations in the lab, it can negatively impact the accuracy and repeatability of measurements.
Electrophysiology and other neurological research can be sensitive to electromagnetic interference (EMI), requiring a faraday cage. Also, MRI machines are sensitive to ambient EMI sources and often require EMI cancellation systems.