Questions relating to how the field of biology has developed over time.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

17
votes
2answers
742 views

Why should a tumor look like a crab?

Origin of the word "cancer" The disease was first called cancer by Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC). He is considered the “Father of Medicine”. Hippocrates used the terms carcinos and ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

Impact of Alan Turing's approach to morphogenesis

Shortly before his untimely passing, the computing pioneer Alan Turing published his most cited paper The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis (1952). The central question for Turing was: how does a ...
16
votes
2answers
266 views

Why is there now only one Salmonella species?

Once upon a time, I chanced upon an old microbiology book that detailed the rather colorful world of enterobacteria. Salmonella in particular stood out, as it seemed there were a lot of species: typhi ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

What did Richard Feynman contribute to molecular biology?

Some time ago, I read James Gleick's "Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman", a wonderful biography of Feynman and, by extension, most of modern physics. In this book, the author mentions ...
12
votes
10answers
1k views

A good book for history of biology/biotechnology for lay people

I have many friends who are interested in Biology and want to know more about the subject in general (like a history of biology, from Darwin's theory, to DNA structure discovery, to the human genome ...
12
votes
2answers
297 views

Did Darwin ever reach the conclusion that selection will remove variation?

According to simple models of selection the genetic variance in a population should be reduced by selection. (Fisher's fundamental theorem states that the rate at which a population can evolve is ...
10
votes
2answers
6k views

Why are the Galápagos islands so special?

Why did Darwin formulate his theory of evolution just after his visit to the Galápagos islands? Why were they so special from an evolutionary point of view?
10
votes
1answer
343 views

Restriction enzymes, how are the recognition sequences determined?

How were the recognition sequences (e.g. GAATTC of EcoRI, GGATCC of BamHI) characterised? Text books only list the recognition ...
9
votes
2answers
157 views

Acknowledging differentiation of species, in historical times

This is at least partly an historical question, and I am not even remotely a biologist of any sort, so apologies beforehand if it's a little obscure. I often wonder how many distinctions were made in ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Did the eugenics program in Nazi Germany have a measurable effect? [closed]

Did the killing or sterilisation of people considered as living a "life unworthy of life" in Nazi Germany have any measurable effect on the "average health" of Germany? Is there any statistical ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

How many species did Carl Linnaeus classify?

How many species did Carl Linnaeus (senior) classify?
8
votes
1answer
62 views

Original paper about the all or none law for neurons

I am looking for the original paper about the all or none law for neural activity. I know that there is a very old article about the all or none law for mammalian heart muscle fibers, but I'm ...
8
votes
2answers
213 views

How was the resemblance between apes and humans explained in pre-Darwinian biology?

Humans and apes have somewhat obvious similarities, these must have been apparent to natural philosophers before the possibility of a common ancestry was first proposed in the mid-1800's. These ...
7
votes
2answers
5k views

What did we learn with Nazi human experimentation?

Was there actually any useful knowledge gained from the Nazi experiments on human test subjects? Wikipedia cites freezing and phosphine gas reactions, but I would like to know other potential results ...
6
votes
2answers
198 views

Which species were first described by Charles Darwin?

There are many plants and animals named for the naturalist Charles Darwin, such as Darwin's Frog (Rhinoderma darwinii), but which were named by him? I'm finding it difficult to find such a list.
6
votes
1answer
129 views

On which date did the official name change of Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis change?

When did the change of official name from Lactobacillus sanfrancisco to Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis happen? An answer ((to the exact day OR within a few days) AND the name of the conference at ...
6
votes
1answer
362 views

First discovery of long-term depression?

LTP was first described by Tim Bliss and Terje Lømo in their paper Long-lasting potentiation of synaptic transmission in the dentate area of the anaesthetized rabbit following stimulation of the ...
6
votes
2answers
158 views

Do we have fundamental conflict in biology?

As saying "fundamental conflict", I mean something like two (or more) widely accepted results from different areas (or scales) can not exist logically together. In physics, there have been three ...
5
votes
1answer
110 views

Who are these biologists?

I know the third one in the front row is James Watson. Does anyone recognize the others?
5
votes
1answer
206 views

Was Darwin aware of the difficulties behind the concept of species?

Introduction The concept of species is a very old concept that suffers from not being a natural category. There exists no single definition that would categorize living beings into groups and that ...
5
votes
1answer
169 views

When did mouth pipetting stop becoming a way to handle liquids in a lab?

Almost all modern lab protocols have an addendum prohibiting pipetting by mouth, instead mandating that a Gilson pipette, a rubber pipette ball, or a serological Pipet-Aid be used. However, it was ...
5
votes
1answer
251 views

Why is E.coli used as a model?

Is there a reason for the choice of E.coli as a model for many bacterial systems? Other bacteria such as B.subtilis are also used, but why is E. coli preferred?
4
votes
2answers
913 views

Why are the sex chromosomes called X and Y?

Is there a specific reason that the letter Y is used as the symbol for the male chromosome and X is used for the female chromosome?
4
votes
1answer
71 views

History: Do evolutionary and ecological processes occur at the same timescales?

Classically, it was thought that evolutionary processes occurred at a much slower pace than demographic/ecological processes. Nobody, ever thought about incorporating both processes into the same ...
4
votes
2answers
99 views

Is there a standard reference for the importance of tumor heterogeneity?

In a recent post, Philip Gerlee highlighted the two biggest contributions of mathematical oncology to cancer research: (1) increasing focus on the progress of cancer as an evolutionary process, and ...
4
votes
1answer
53 views

What was Protein G named after?

Protein G (the bacterial antibody binding protein) is often used to pulldown antibodies, for example in chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) experiments. However, I was unable to find a site ...
4
votes
1answer
79 views

Who was the first to talk about evolvability?

"Evolvability is the capacity of a system for adaptive evolution." (source) There are several other definitions though: Who was the first person to use the word "evolvability"? Who was the first to ...
4
votes
1answer
229 views

Tool use by animals: research history

I was under impression that data about quite a lot different species using different tools is a fairly modern phenomenon, i.e., all of the research is fairly recent. Around 50 years ago it was ...
4
votes
1answer
299 views

Why apes started to contemplate and become altruistic? [closed]

I was asking this first on philosophy forums, but it is suggested, that answer could be found from evolutionary view of point, so here we go: Again my question raised when thinking of myths, their ...
4
votes
0answers
44 views

'Obviously True' Statements that turned out to be false? [closed]

As someone who studies mathematics, there are plenty of examples by which some theorem that was considered as "obviously" true later turned out to be completely false. I was discussing this with my ...
3
votes
2answers
354 views

19th century Latin species description

While reading a 19th century text of new species description, I'm confused by some Latin phrases. The case here is: Corp. long. 8 poll., caud. 9 poll. I guess 'corp.' and 'long.' are ...
3
votes
1answer
152 views

Before Evolution was proposed by Charles Darwin, what were the leading secular theories to explain how life developed? [closed]

Outside of evolution, what were the leading scientific schools of thought that Charles Darwin contented with when he published his evolution theory as way of natural selection in 1859?
3
votes
1answer
49 views

When was it determined that Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease?

I just found out today that type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. When was this discovered?
3
votes
2answers
824 views

How was the Huntington's disease gene's location found?

I read in the book "Why we get sick." by Nesse and Williams that: Steady detective work and fabulous luck have enabled geneticists to pinpoint the Huntington's gene on the short arm of ...
3
votes
1answer
391 views

When was the purpose of bone marrow discovered?

I'm currently reading William Cheselden's book Osteographia or The Anatomy of the Bones, which was published in 1733 (for the pretty pictures, naturally; not up to date anatomy). When he addresses the ...
3
votes
2answers
35 views

Books about famous experiments in biology - 'methods of investigation'

I'll explain briefly what I need (hoping to find something) : I wanted to know if someone knew about a book that in a way or another talked about the greatest experiments in biology (Griffith, ...
2
votes
1answer
102 views

How was Restriction Site of EcoRI sequenced?

The sequence of restriction site of EcoRI - GAATTC was identified in the early 1970s, before Sanger Sequencing was invented.(1977) How was the restriction site of EcoRI sequenced ?
2
votes
2answers
51 views

Recommendation of a comprehensive book on the history of medicine

I was wondering if somebody could recommend a book on the history of medicine, be it comprehensive or an introduction to the history of medicine. I know there are a lot of medical books that cover ...
2
votes
1answer
57 views

First life forms to evolve controlled flight

What was the first living organism able to fly in the skies and control their direction , not just Aeroplankton like bacteria and viruses carried by the winds but something like an winged insect or ...
2
votes
1answer
47 views

Who was the first to coin the terms of soft and hard selection?

Soft and hard selection are sometimes used with different definitions. I have been told that at first place hard and soft selection has been defined in the following way: soft selection: Each deme ...
2
votes
1answer
16 views

What is the Cordil that Edward Topsell describes?

In his "History of four-footed beasts and serpents", Edward Topsell describes a "serpent" called Cordil. Since he lists everything that crawls on the ground as a serpent, regardless of being a ...
2
votes
1answer
173 views

What is the full name of E. G. Gray?

E. G. Gray is Neuro scientist who found and described first the two major morphologically defined synapse types (Gray Type I (asymmetric) and II (symmetric)) in his work E G Gray (Oct. 1959). ...
2
votes
0answers
36 views

Rushed publications based on flawed data

In 2014 BICEP2 made a very controversial press release. It was rushed, given before any papers where published, because they feared they would be scooped by another similar experiment. In the end it ...
1
vote
1answer
66 views

Why are plant buds called 'eyes'? [closed]

I was reading the etymology of the Latinate English verb 'inoculate' which contains the following part that generated the question entitled above: [...] inoculare "graft in, implant a bud or eye ...
1
vote
1answer
36 views

Who and when was the first human diagnosed with hemophilia, or considered a carrier?

The earliest case I can find is Queen Victoria of England, who ruled from 1837-1901. Is this the first hemophilia case on record?
1
vote
1answer
82 views

History: Building a “Phylogenetic network” of famous evolutionary biologists [closed]

Seems like many of the famous evolutionary biologists are somehow related to each others. For example (and I might be mistaken), Ronald A. Fisher was mentored by a descendent of Charles Darwin. Joe ...
1
vote
1answer
35 views

DNA Fingerprint

I recently came across an article indicating that the half life of DNA in the most ideal situations is 521 years (http://www.nature.com/news/dna-has-a-521-year-half-life-1.11555). However, since ...
1
vote
1answer
21 views

Cancer history on environment-cancer relationship

I am interested to know how environment-cancer relationship knowledge has developed. I know that all began when Muller first proved that mutation could be induced via ionizing radiation, X rays in the ...
1
vote
0answers
27 views

PEth test blood and incidental exposure [closed]

Is PEth level 37 high from a blood test. Incidental exposure possible ?.
1
vote
0answers
28 views

How Did They Know What To Do ? And Cellular Identification [closed]

So this is regarding Science, generally, it has influence throughout each section science. How did the early age Scientists etc. knew what is to be done to achieve a certain thing ? And by that, I ...