Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, or material world or universe. "Nature" can refer to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. The study of nature is a large part of science. Although humans are part of nature, human activity is often understood as a separate category from other natural phenomena.
The word ''nature'' is derived from the Latin word ''natura'', or "essential qualities, innate disposition", and in ancient times, literally meant "birth". ''Natura'' is a Latin translation of the Greek word ''physis'' (φύσις), which originally related to the intrinsic characteristics that plants, animals, and other features of the world develop of their own accord.〔A useful though somewhat erratically presented account of the pre-Socratic use of the concept of φύσις may be found in Naddaf, Gerard ''The Greek Concept of Nature'', SUNY Press, 2006. The word φύσις, while first used in connection with a plant in Homer, occurs very early in Greek philosophy, and in several senses. Generally, these senses match rather well the current senses in which the English word ''nature'' is used, as confirmed by Guthrie, W.K.C. ''Presocratic Tradition from Parmenides to Democritus'' (volume 2 of his ''History of Greek Philosophy''), Cambridge UP, 1965.〕〔The first known use of ''physis'' was by Homer in reference to the intrinsic qualities of a plant: ὣς ἄρα φωνήσας πόρε φάρμακον ἀργεϊφόντης ἐκ γαίης ἐρύσας, καί μοι φύσιν αὐτοῦ ἔδειξε. (So saying, Argeiphontes () gave me the herb, drawing it from the ground, and showed me its nature.) ''Odyssey'' 10.302-3 (ed. A.T. Murray). (The word is dealt with thoroughly in Liddell and Scott's ''(Greek Lexicon )''.) For later but still very early Greek uses of the term, see earlier note.〕 The concept of nature as a whole, the physical universe, is one of several expansions of the original notion; it began with certain core applications of the word φύσις by pre-Socratic philosophers, and has steadily gained currency ever since. This usage continued during the advent of modern scientific method in the last several centuries.〔Isaac Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687), for example, is translated "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy", and reflects the then-current use of the words "natural philosophy", akin to "systematic study of nature"〕〔The etymology of the word "physical" shows its use as a synonym for "natural" in about the mid-15th century: 〕
Within the various uses of the word today, "nature" often refers to geology and wildlife. Nature can refer to the general realm of living plants and animals, and in some cases to the processes associated with inanimate objects – the way that particular types of things exist and change of their own accord, such as the weather and geology of the Earth. It is often taken to mean the "natural environment" or wilderness–wild animals, rocks, forest, and in general those things that have not been substantially altered by human intervention, or which persist despite human intervention. For example, manufactured objects and human interaction generally are not considered part of nature, unless qualified as, for example, "human nature" or "the whole of nature". This more traditional concept of natural things which can still be found today implies a distinction between the natural and the artificial, with the artificial being understood as that which has been brought into being by a human consciousness or a human mind. Depending on the particular context, the term "natural" might also be distinguished from the unnatural or the supernatural.
Earth (or, "the earth") is the only planet known to support life, and its natural features are the subject of many fields of scientific research. Within the solar system, it is third closest to the sun; it is the largest terrestrial planet and the fifth largest overall. Its most prominent climatic features are its two large polar regions, two relatively narrow temperate zones, and a wide equatorial tropical to subtropical region.〔
(【引用サイトリンク】title=World Climates )〕 Precipitation varies widely with location, from several metres of water per year to less than a millimetre. 71 percent of the Earth's surface is covered by salt-water oceans. The remainder consists of continents and islands, with most of the inhabited land in the Northern Hemisphere.
Earth has evolved through geological and biological processes that have left traces of the original conditions. The outer surface is divided into several gradually migrating tectonic plates. The interior remains active, with a thick layer of plastic mantle and an iron-filled core that generates a magnetic field. This iron core is composed of a solid inner phase, and a fluid outer phase. It is the rotation of the outer, fluid iron core that generates an electric current through dynamo action, which in turn generates a strong magnetic field.
The atmospheric conditions have been significantly altered from the original conditions by the presence of life-forms, which create an ecological balance that stabilizes the surface conditions. Despite the wide regional variations in climate by latitude and other geographic factors, the long-term average global climate is quite stable during interglacial periods,〔(【引用サイトリンク】Past Climate Change )〕 and variations of a degree or two of average global temperature have historically had major effects on the ecological balance, and on the actual geography of the Earth.
抄文引用元・出典: フリー百科事典『 ウィキペディア（Wikipedia）』