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Hacker News Comments on
Introduction to Biology - The Secret of Life

edX · Massachusetts Institute of Technology · 5 HN comments

HN Academy has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention edX's "Introduction to Biology - The Secret of Life" from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Course Description

Explore the secret of life through the basics of biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, recombinant DNA, genomics and rational medicine.

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  • Ranked #7 this month (nov/dec) · view
  • Ranked #16 this year (2020) · view
Provider Info
This course is offered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the edX platform.
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Hacker News Stories and Comments

All the comments and stories posted to Hacker News that reference this url.
Nov 19, 2020 · srom on I should have loved biology
I am currently self-learning biology and I just completed MIT's 7.00x introduction to biology on edX [1].

The course is outstanding and anything but a "lifeless recitation of names". Prof Eric Lander (key researcher on the Human Genome Project) goes through two centuries of research and takes the time to explain how and why discoveries came into existence. It goes from the early days of biochemistry to recent major advancement such as CRISPR/Cas9.

I'm looking to apply my ML expertise to the field of biology and this course was a real windfall, I highly recommend it.


I would recommend the edX Introduction to Biology course [0].

It is a simplified version of the introductory biology course at MIT, that doesn't _focus_ on naming/defining things in biology. Instead, it uses the lenses of genetics and biochemistry to explore how the core machinery of life works, and how we got to our current understanding. That said, there is some amount of memorization that is unavoidable.


May 25, 2020 · AareyBaba on Learn Genetics
The Molecular Biology of the Cell is the standard text.

But you'll probably benefit from taking an Edx course

Do I have to brush up on inorganic and orgranic chemistry in order to get the most out of this book?
You should be able to get through with basic high-school chemisty. You need to know there are elements C, H, N, O, P, Ca, K, S, know what an ionic bond and covalent bonds is and be able to look at the structure of a molecule.
Well, it very much depends on ones goals and ones context, doesn't it? Which impacts what ones brain pays wants and what it focuses its attention on, and what it filters out no matter how much you attempt to cram it in.

What I found a revelation and a bug eye opener - yes as a (CS degree) programmer - was: medicine, chemistry (and org. chem and bio.chem), biology. From Coursera and When I did this it was all completely free, now they put some restrictions on some courses (Coursera more so than edX), for example that as a non-payer you cannot do all the exercises.

Even when/if the linked courses are over, accessing there content should still be possible. The courses are free, a certificate is not necessary. Some homework or exams may not be available for non-payers.

Best (university level introductory) course for biology:


Physiology: I actually found a lot of lectures on Google better than any of the online courses, start from

Fundamentals of neuro-science: followed by "Medical Neuroscience" on Coursera: -- easily one of the best courses out there

A very simple course combining (very simple, beginner level) programming and (basic) biology: -- what's interesting here for a programmer definitely isn't the Javascript code, but asking biology questions that can be answered with (even simple) code.

Staticstics is a huge part of medicine and biology - plenty of good courses on probability, statistics (all levels) and courses using R or Python, here a random example course:

On so many more levels than I can briefly write down here this "field trip" into bio-sciences felt soooo much better than learning yet another programming language. Let's keep in mind, regardless of C++, Haskell, Javascript, and/or whatever framework, the hardware underneath all of it is all the exact same architecture. Looking at differences between the programming languages now seems to me like looking at a surface that to a naked eye looks completely smooth, but if you zoom in far enough with an electron microscope it looks like a messy mountain area. But when you do that you lose sight of the big(ger) picture. The excourse into (organic and bio-) chemistry and biology helped me get a better sense of where we are, at least it feels that way. The neuroscience helps remaining grounded (and getting more cynical) when reading popular headlines about "neural network" and "AI" and the like.

Definitely Eric Lander's Introduction to Biology - The Secret Of Life class (MITx 7.00x)

Firm grounding in the Central Dogma. Covers the entire history of genetics. From Gregor Mendel's peas. To Morgenstern's Fruit Fly Lab. And right up to the present day Supreme Court BRCA case and CRISPR/Cas9. Essential background for understanding the coming century of New Biotech.

Thank you, this looks like just the kind of thing I've been looking for!
I took this course recently. I Iove how he took you back in time and let you experience the importance of each discovery.
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