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Cell and Molecular Biology for Environmental Engineers by Ryan Rogers

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CHAPTER 2

CELLULAR STRUCTURES

2.1 CELL THEORY

What does it mean to be alive? While it may seem a philosophical question, it can be easily answered by investigating the properties and actions of the most basic unit of life: the cell. The term cell originated in the mid-1600s, by a natural philosopher named Robert Hooke, who first coined the term while observing cork underneath a microscope (Gest 2004). The observation of organized, separated regions reminded him of the living spaces inhabited by monks in the monastery, which were referred to as cells (Hooke 1665). The publication of Hooke’s findings sparked interest in the microscopic world and many other naturalists and scientists became interested in observing previously invisible structures. ...

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