The use of methods from the physical sciences to aid in the study of biological systems.

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29
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2answers
855 views

What are the trajectories of flying insects?

Many flying insects tend to have very jagged trajectories. For moves of a fruit fly looks like a random walk. Is there any research on the properties of trajectories (e.g. their fractal dimension or ...
23
votes
1answer
765 views

How, on a physical level, does ATP confer energy?

When ATP is used as the energy currency to make, say, reaction X + Y → Z happen, is what happens on a physical level down at the molecular scale that during the reaction ATP + H2O → ADP + Pi  &...
17
votes
1answer
651 views

How fast can a human run?

I'm a runner (cross country) and I'm always amazed at how fast Olympic sprinters are. There's a lot of hype about those in the 100-meter dash being the fastest in the world, and we're constantly ...
16
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2answers
2k views

How do birds deal with their eyes drying out at high speeds?

My eyes tear up when cycling at 15 mph, which is nothing compared to bird airspeeds. Do birds continuously produce lots of tears and blink a lot, or do the eyes self-moisturize from the inside ...
15
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4answers
4k views

How do trees lift water higher than 10 meters?

The atmosphere pressure is 10 meters of water (approx). This means that it is impossible to lift water higher than 10 meters with vacuum or сapillary action (on Earth, under normal conditions). There ...
15
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2answers
819 views

How do small animals make loud sounds?

Walking past the park today, I heard a cicada so loud I thought at first it must be some sort of large power tool. How is it that that very small animals like cicadas (crickets, etc.) can make such ...
14
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3answers
792 views

Why don't our cells merge when their phospholipid membranes touch each other?

Membranes of our cells consist of lipid bilayer (with some other components mixed in). Why wouldn't those lipid bilayers glue to each other and make the cells merge? If you suppose that it's due to ...
14
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1answer
1k views

Why doesn't the cell membrane just…break apart?

Forgive me if this is a silly question. I can't understand the basics. Why doesn't the cell membrane just break apart? What's keeping the layers in the phospholipid bilayer together? I know that the ...
14
votes
1answer
271 views

Effect of pupil responses on the electroretinogram

The electroretinogram (ERG) is a measure of electrical activity of the retina. It is typically recorded from the cornea with a wire electrode or gold-foil electrode. Generally, the the ERG is ...
13
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2answers
2k views

Is the EC50 of an activating protein for an enzyme a good indicator for the binding affinity Kd?

We work with a membrane protein system where measuring the affinity between the enzyme and the upstream activating protein has been difficult, and when measured in detergent solution, it is almost 100 ...
13
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1answer
377 views

Quantum mechanics in biology

There is a growing interest in the applications of non-equilibrium quantum dynamics to describe biological processes (I'm not talking here about Penrose's old theories, but new stuff -- quantum ...
12
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3answers
188 views

Is the amount of the soil reduced when plants grow?

According to the principle of mass conservation I think the amount of the soil should be reduced when plants grow. But this reduction is not observable so much. For example, some trees (big trees) ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the mass of a pigeon tail feather?

There is question at Space.SE If I drop a feather from orbit, would it burn up or “hit” the ground? there is an attempt to answer the question, but the mass of pigeon tail feather and possibly the ...
11
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1answer
382 views

What is the transmembrane 'Positive-Inside Rule' nowadays? Has the definition changed over time?

First definition. Two publications by von Heijne in 1989 and 1992 coined the 'Positive-Inside rule' and showed it's practical value in topology prediction of transmembrane helices. It was clearly ...
9
votes
2answers
7k views

Why is saltatory conduction faster than continuous conduction?

How does spacing apart sodium and potassium channels allow the action potential to travel faster down the axon? This is the reason always cited for saltatory conduction and myelination, but my mental ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Why are potassium channels slower than sodium channels?

I am relatively new in the subject of biology. I have a strong mathematical background and in order to get into the field of computational neuroscience, I am trying to get some biological background. ...
9
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2answers
350 views

How do diving marine mammals avoid decompression sickness?

How do marine mammals, whose very survival depends on regular diving, manage to avoid decompression sickness or "the bends?" Do they, indeed, avoid it?
9
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1answer
157 views

Is there a biophysical causation from local field potential (LFP) to spikes?

Many experiments showed that neurons tend to fire at some phase (usually trough) of local field potential (LFP) oscillations, such as theta or gamma rhythm. LFP is supposedly generated by a population ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Why human cannot stand still in one place?

When a human stands in one place, he cannot stand still but we can see the body slightly swings. Is this due to the Earth rotation or it has something with biology and muscles relaxations? I have ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

Does darker skin color make it easier to live under sun?

I have always thought darker colors absorb more heat from the sun, so if you are wearing a white T-shirt you will be cooler under sun than wearing a darker T-shirt, or a black piece of steel will be ...
8
votes
2answers
433 views

Can a living organism run on electricity?

Each time I'm too lazy too cook I think it'd be cool to be able to just plug myselt into an outlet. Yet I know it is not possible - I need amino acids and a lot of other stuff that electricity can't ...
8
votes
2answers
296 views

Which part of human body sustains most pressure when standing up straight?

Let's suppose a healthy fit barefoot young adult standing comfortably on a flat solid surface. A reasonable guess is somewhere around the foot. But is it the ankle, the heel, or the Metatarsus?
8
votes
1answer
73 views

How does membrane potential vary between intraceullar membranes and the cellular membrane?

Question Does each type of membrane have a different membrane potential? I'm especially interested in answers that can cite academic papers that have attempted to measure membrane potentials. ...
8
votes
1answer
525 views

What is the difference between organelle membranes?

Cells and organelles are contained in lipid bilayers. I'm particularly interested in eukaryotic organelle bilayers and the biophysicochemical differences between them. Many papers assume a ...
7
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3answers
2k views

Why don't phospholipid bilayers dissolve?

I just started learning about the structure and composition of cell's membrane and there is something that I fail to understand. The membrane is composed of a phospholipid bilayer. The phospholipid ...
7
votes
1answer
518 views

Why does the membrane of a neuron not stay at its depolarized state?

When an action potential is transmitted along the axon, the membrane reaches its depolarized state by opening Na+ channels. Both K+ (potassium) and Na+ (sodium) are now on both sides with close to ...
7
votes
2answers
239 views

Is “exhaustion” of the Hodgkin-Huxley membrane at constant stimulation a real phenomenon?

I was playing around with a simulation of the Hodgkin-Huxley model using their original parameters for the squid giant axon. By applying a constant stimulation current to the model in resting state, ...
7
votes
3answers
9k views

How do warm-blooded animals keep their temperatures constant?

Warm blooded animals like us keep their temperature constant irrespective of their surroundings. But how do they do that? Energy should be supplied from the inside. I assume that reactions like making ...
7
votes
1answer
525 views

What physics knowledge can be applied to biology of organisms and ecosystems?

In the wiki page of Biophysics: Biophysics spans all scales of biological organization, from the molecular scale to whole organisms and ecosystems. But after searching on the internet; the ...
7
votes
1answer
301 views

What is the reason behind high resting membrane potential of pacemaker cells?

Pacemaker cells have high resting membrane potentials of -50 to -40 mV, whereas normal cells have their resting membrane potential around -70 mV. Which ions, and what kind of channels are responsible ...
7
votes
1answer
151 views

PDB Mining: Why Do I Find Atoms Less than 1 Angstrom Apart?

I am attempting to find potential Hydrogen bonds between Hydrogen donors and aromatic ring acceptors. I do this by predicting the location of Hydrogens on residues and then calculating how far these ...
7
votes
2answers
353 views

Can a single axon propagate multiple simultaneous action potentials?

I have not been able to locate any research that indicates whether a single axon of a neuron or nerve cell can conduct multiple simultaneous (i.e. spatially separate) action potentials. I am aware ...
7
votes
2answers
106 views

Permeability of Plasma Membrane

I’m having trouble grasping why small polar molecules can cross the hydrophobic region of the membrane and not ions. Won’t the polar molecules be attracted to the watery extracellular medium and not ...
7
votes
1answer
309 views

What keeps the resting potential of neurons constant at -70 mV?

I know the sodium-potassium pump pumps out 3 Na+ ions and pumps in 2 K+ ions per reaction so the negative charge in the axon increases. However, once the voltage (difference of charge inside and ...
7
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2answers
2k views

How do marine mammals control buoyancy?

Presumably, as a whale or seal dives, its lungs get compressed by the increasing water pressure, and it gets less buoyant. Under this model, for a given amount of air taken in at the surface, the ...
7
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1answer
242 views

Double stranded nucleic acids are more 'durable' than single stranded nucleic acids?

I'm struggling with a question I've been asked. "Why is double stranded genetic material more 'durable' than single stranded one?" I know that double stranded genetic material is more stable due to ...
6
votes
2answers
456 views

Problems understanding membrane potential

I understand that membrane potential is the difference of the extracellular and intracellular ionic charges, due to their concentrations. We say that the extracellular space has a charge of 0 and then ...
6
votes
4answers
608 views

Is human vision sensitive to frequency or wavelength?

In a vacuum, there is a one-to-one correspondence between light frequency ($\nu$) and wavelength ($\lambda$), ie. $\lambda=c/\nu$. But in a refractive medium, $\lambda=v/\nu$, so while the frequency ...
6
votes
1answer
97 views

What regulates the timing of the motion of molecular machines during DNA Replication?

This question is about this video I found on Youtube. I just want to know what is the mechanism which regulates the timing of motion of the parts of these molecular machines. I know that those big ...
6
votes
1answer
104 views

Software recommendation for protein in electric field modeling? [closed]

I'd appreciate a suggestion for software to compare models of two proteins in an alternating electric field. The more detail, or perhaps direction towards an existing and similar paper, the better. ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

How is membrane capacitance related to the increased speed of saltatory conduction?

Here is the original question which inspired my question. As explained by the answers there, the reason saltatory conduction in myelinated neurons is faster than non-myelinated conduction is because ...
6
votes
2answers
425 views

How efficient is the human body at metabolizing food?

My friend and I were having a discussion over how "efficient" human digestion is. If a human ate a 1000 calorie hamburger, how many of those calories (how much energy) does the body process into ...
6
votes
1answer
734 views

Why do most organisms have negative supercoiled DNA?

It has been observed that in nature most organisms have negative supercoiled DNA and that few organisms have positive supercoiled DNA. Some of the organisms that have the positive supercoiled DNA live ...
5
votes
1answer
85 views

Stretching and compressing bones

The Young's modulus of elasticity when a bone is stretched is : 16×109 and when it is compressed, it is 9×109 N/m2. That means, change in length will be more if you compress a bone as compared to ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Bone conduction . Different from the normal hearing phenomena in humans?

Bone conduction, is it something different from the normal phenomena of listening through the ears. I checked on some literature . Is it so that Bone conduction has very less to do with the ears and ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

Does coloring affect the perception of depth?

I have a question about the mechanics of human vision which may be as much of a physics question as it is a biology/physiology question. I noticed that if I try to imagine a clear blue daytime sky ...
5
votes
1answer
113 views

Criteria for compound action potential thresholds

As opposed to action potential thresholds (which are binary yes/no events), electrophysiological thresholds of compound action potentials are arbitrary. Mostly a certain noise level is picked and when ...
5
votes
2answers
118 views

Role of microvilli in cell volume regulation

Does the presence of microvilli on a cell's surface ensure that it's more resistant to cell swelling or lysis in a hypotonic solution, as compared to a normal cell?
4
votes
3answers
67 views

Is Einstein's mass energy equivalence ($E=mc^2$) relevant to biological systems?

I'm more than 100% sure that the kilograms I eat don't get directly converted to feces and urine. I'm sure some of it goes to regenerating tissue that is constantly being disposed as well, and maybe ...
4
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2answers
353 views

Question about equilibrium potential formula

My biology book says, that the equilibrium potential for an ion with a charge of +1 is: $$E_{ion}= 62mV \biggl(\log\frac{[ion]_{outside}}{[ion]_{inside}}\biggr)$$ Where does the 62 mV come from? How ...