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Biology LibreTexts

2: Matter, Energy, & Life

  • Page ID
    14593
  • Learning Outcomes

    After studying this chapter, you should be able to:

    • Describe matter and elements
    • Describe the ways in which carbon is critical to life
    • Describe the roles of cells in organisms
    • Compare and contrast prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells
    • Summarize the process of photosynthesis and explain its relevance to other living things

    • 2.1: Matter
      At its most fundamental level, life is made of matter. Matter is something that occupies space and has mass. All matter is composed of elements, substances that cannot be broken down or transformed chemically into other substances. Each element is made of atoms, each with a constant number of protons and unique properties. A total of 118 elements have been defined; however, only 92 occur naturally and fewer than 30 are found in living cells.
    • 2.2: Energy
      Virtually every task performed by living organisms requires energy. Nutrients and other molecules are imported into the cell to meet these energy demands. For example, energy is required for the synthesis and breakdown of molecules, as well as the transport of molecules into and out of cells. In addition, processes such as ingesting and breaking down food, exporting wastes and toxins, and movement of the cell all require energy.
    • 2.3: A Cell is the Smallest Unit of Life
      The atom is the smallest and most fundamental unit of matter. Atoms combine to form molecules, which are chemical structures consisting of at least two atoms held together by a chemical bond. In plants, animals, and many other types of organisms, molecules come together in specific ways to create structures called organelles. Organelles are small structures that exist within cells and perform specialized functions. As discussed in more detail below, all living things are made of one or more cell
    • 2.4: Energy Enters Ecosystems Through Photosynthesis
      The atom is the smallest and most fundamental unit of matter. It consists of a nucleus surrounded by electrons. Atoms combine to form molecules, which are chemical structures consisting of at least two atoms held together by a chemical bond. In plants, animals, and many other types of organisms, molecules come together in specific ways to create structures called organelles. Organelles are small structures that exist within cells and perform specialized functions.
    • 2.S: Matter, Energy, & Life (Summary)

    Thumbnail image - This sage thrasher’s diet, like that of almost all organisms, depends on photosynthesis.