This tag is for questions about the general biological features of human beings (as opposed to the biology of non-humans).

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109
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4answers
11k views

Why do I only breathe out of one nostril?

I was just sitting with my hand next to my nose and I realized that air was only coming out of the right nostril. Why is that? I would think I would use both, it seems much more efficient. Have I ...
59
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there a reason why human eyesight and plants make use of the same wavelength of light?

The accepted range for the wavelengths of light that the human eye can detect is roughly between 400nm and 700nm. Is it a co-incidence that these wavelengths are identical to those in the ...
38
votes
1answer
8k views

Why do Humans not produce Vitamin C like other mammals?

Why do most mammals produce their own Vitamin C? Why do Humans not?
35
votes
4answers
7k views

How does the brain's energy consumption depend on mental activity?

What is the impact of mental activity on the energy consumption of the human brain? I am most interested in intellectually demanding tasks (e.g., chess matches, solving a puzzle, taking a difficult ...
33
votes
1answer
14k views

Why Does Salt Water Help Sore Throats?

I am having some trouble understanding how salt water, a simple solution, could so effectively remove the pains of a sore throat. I do believe that the answer is closely related to hypo/hyper-tonic ...
33
votes
5answers
1k views

Human perception of time depending on age

From what I can tell and what thus far all people with whom I discussed this subject confirmed is that time appears to "accelerate" as we age. Digging a little, most explanations I found basically ...
32
votes
4answers
15k views

Death because of distilled water consumption

One of my friends said that I would die if I drank distilled water (we were using it in a chemistry experiment) I gave it a go and surprisingly did not die. I did a bit of Googling and found this ...
28
votes
2answers
547 views

Why don't teeth glow?

Hydroxyapatite is the main component of tooth enamel. It contains phosphorus in the form of phosphates, pyrophosphates etc. that are found to exhibit the the property of phosphorescence. But why don't ...
26
votes
1answer
4k views

What causes morning wood?

Sometimes men wake up with an erection in the morning. Why does this happen?
25
votes
3answers
394 views

Is telomere length a reliable measure of health/lifespan?

Several companies are commercializing tests for telomere length such as this one here. I understand the basic mechanism for why telomeres shorten during DNA replication, but how good is the evidence ...
24
votes
5answers
743 views

Why do we age? or Do we have a theory of senescence?

There seem to be a number of ideas about why we age. Hypotheses include the gradual accumulation of cell metabolic products affecting organism function and the reduction of telomere length during cell ...
24
votes
4answers
52k views

What's the maximum and minimum temperature a human can survive?

This is a question that has been in my mind since I was a kid. I'm not a doctor, nor even a biology student, just a curious person. What is the minimum and maximum temperature a human body can stand ...
22
votes
4answers
9k views

Is there any advantage to one blood type over another?

All humans can be grouped into ABO and Rh+/- blood groups (at a minimum). Is there any advantage at all to one group or the other? This article hints that there are some pathogens that display a ...
22
votes
1answer
11k views

How does laughing gas (N2O) work?

Laughing gas (N2O), well, makes people laugh. How does just a gas make us do that, there has to be some hormones at work... So, I wanted to know how this works? What is the mechanism?
21
votes
2answers
8k views

If a human takes antibiotics are all bacteria in the body killed?

From my basic understanding, antibiotics kill living things, bacteria for example. Do the antibiotics consumed by a human-being distinguish between what they kill? Or do they just kill every bacteria ...
20
votes
1answer
3k views

How long do your eyes need to adapt to darkness and reach full contrast?

I heard you should wait some time until your eyes adapt to darkness and are able to see smallest luminosity differences, otherwise you might overlook faint objects in the ocular. Are there any rules ...
20
votes
5answers
366 views

Are there any substance that are more dangerous at low dose than at higher dose?

It is commonly admitted that The dose makes the poison which means as a person, the more I take a substance, the more risk I take for my health. There is even an indicator called LD50 (see ...
20
votes
3answers
3k views

What actually happens when my leg 'falls asleep'?

Most people have experienced the temporary loss of feeling and tingling in their leg resulting from sitting in an abnormal position for a short while. Usually you get a loss of feeling in your leg ...
19
votes
4answers
6k views

How many genes do we share with our mother?

Somewhere I have read we share more than 99% of our genes with every other other person and 98% of our genes with chimpanzees. What does this mean? Don't we share 50% of our genes with our mother and ...
19
votes
2answers
616 views

Why is rabies incurable?

I'm still not sure about the mechanics that lead to rabies being incurable. I know that it can be treated before any symptoms show up, but why is it that once symptoms show the person is a dead man ...
19
votes
2answers
6k views

What causes fingerprints to form and why is the pattern formed unique?

I've found research that suggests that the reason we develop fingerprints is because they aid us with feeling surfaces (Scheibert, et al. 2008) and not to increase friction and help with the gripping ...
19
votes
1answer
320 views

Extremely rare occurence of Heart cancer?

The occurrence of Heart cancer (similar, but not the same as Rhabdomyosarcoma) is extremely rare, about 1 per year according to MayoClinic. The reason for this rarity is explained to be the ...
18
votes
3answers
17k views

Why do mammalian red blood cells lack a nucleus?

How did the red blood cell in humans get to lose its nucleus (and other organelles)? Does the bone marrow just not put the nucleus in, or is it stripped out at some stage in the construction of the ...
17
votes
2answers
426 views

How is temperature sensed?

Can anyone summarize the mechanism by which when an object of a given temperature is placed in contact with, say, the skin on a human fingertip, the average speed of the particles of the object is ...
17
votes
4answers
5k views

Can humans eat grass?

Can a human eat grass and digest it? Could it be possible to use it as food just like other plants such as wheat or beans?
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Why was disease transfer to the Americas one-way?

It is well known that the European colonists brought many infectious diseases to the Americas, and that these had a deadly effect on the native populations, because they had no immunity to them. Were ...
17
votes
5answers
3k views

Why do the two hemispheres of the brain control the opposite sides of the body?

Why does the left hemisphere control the right and the right hemisphere control the left? I googled it but didn't find a good answer regarding this. Could someone explain? Does this adaptation help ...
17
votes
1answer
908 views

Is kissing a natural human activity?

The word natural here is meant in contrast to it being a sociological construct. Is kissing in all its forms something natural for humans? Is it instinctively erotic? Or is it just a conventional ...
17
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the mechanism behind “acquired” alcohol tolerance?

I can understand natural variation in alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) in a population leading to variation in rate of inebriation (after controlling for other variables -- e.g., mass, food consumption, ...
17
votes
2answers
321 views

Can an adult without genetic lactase persistence still develop a tolerance for dairy foods?

While investigating the rise of adult lactose tolerance, I came across the news that China has been encouraging its citizens to drink more milk, even though most of the Asian population lacks the SNP ...
16
votes
2answers
348 views

Why would diffusion be faster across a non-specialised tissue?

The standard protocol for a person experiencing chest pains is to chew a 300mg aspirin tablet, the argument being that chewing rather than swallowing the tablet results in the aspirin entering the ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

How and where, in the human brain, are memories stored?

Background I am a computer programmer who is fascinated by artificial intelligence and artificial neural networks, and I am becoming more curious about how biological neural networks work. Context ...
15
votes
2answers
5k views

How do the brain and nerves create electrical pulses?

I have heard that information is sent between the brain and peripheral nerves via electrical pulses or signals, but I don't understand how they create them in the first place.
15
votes
2answers
4k views

Why isn't vomit corrosive?

Vomit comes from gastric acid, right? And in gastric acid there is HCl and HCl is corrosive (strong), how come when I vomit, it doesn't destroy things that it (as the vomit) hits (such as floor, ...
14
votes
8answers
7k views

Why have humans evolved much more quickly than other animals?

Humans have, in a relatively short amount of time, evolved from apes on the African plains to upright brainiacs with nukes, computers, and space travel. Meanwhile, a lion is still a lion and a ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Height and natural selection in humans?

I watched the documentary "Evolve" recently and in the segment on "size" Scott V. Edwards, Harvard evolutionary biologist mentioned the idea that humans might evolve to be 7' tall in 'hundreds of ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

Can two humans with 44 chromosomes produce viable offspring?

It is known that there are very few individuals having 44 chromosomes, not the usual 46 chromosomes. One example is a male in China: the first article, the second article. The other is a female in ...
14
votes
3answers
385 views

Are human fetuses more likely to be male?

Question: From a physiological point of view, when sex is determined in a human fetus, is it equally likely to be male or female? Studies in this area typically measure age at birth, where the data ...
14
votes
3answers
808 views

Do probiotics survive digestion?

Pretty much this. I've been wondering if any of the yogourt and other "health" foods containing living probiotic cultures survive digestion to populate our intestines? If so, is there peer-reviewed ...
14
votes
2answers
148 views

Relationship between our microbiome and personalized nutrition

Recently, it has been asked whether there are 'metabolic types' between humans that can benefit from a sort of personalized nutrition. One answer suggested that one discerning factor could be the ...
14
votes
3answers
711 views

What causes a 'stuffy' or 'runny' nose when you have a cold?

When humans get the common cold, a common symptom is a stuffy or runny nose. Is that the body's immune response or is that the virus's doing?
14
votes
1answer
882 views

Why do we get runny noses in the cold?

The most annoying thing for me about being cold is a runny nose. Is there an advantage to having a runny nose when cold? What does having a runny nose achieve?
14
votes
2answers
1k views

What causes REM atonia to be lost in sleepwalking?

I understand that in normal REM sleep the voluntary muscles are in effect paralysed in order to prevent an individual acting out their dreams. This paper indicates that there are likley to be ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

What causes the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria?

I understand bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics due to selection pressures, but how do resistant bacteria process antibiotics when exposed to it, compared to non-resistant bacteria. Also, ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

How does the human body metabolize gasoline?

A Chinese man has been drinking gasoline to relieve his pain for 25 years. How does the human body metabolize gasoline? Also, what are the side-affects to gasoline?
13
votes
2answers
595 views

Does testosterone increase female sexual behavior?

According to my lecture notes testosterone generally increases sexual behavior. Given that it's generally thought to be the male hormone I'm not quite sure whether they mean that it also increases ...
13
votes
2answers
5k views

Why do people have antibodies against other blood types?

The ABO blood type divides each blood type according to whether they have the "A" and "B" antigen(s) (AB has both, O has none). People also have antibodies against the antigens they don't have (AB has ...
13
votes
2answers
12k views

Possible? When a pregnant woman suffers an organ damage, fetus would send stem cells to the damage organ to help repair it?

I am quite sure that there is this blood-placental barrier between the mother and the baby so that nothing (except a type of antibody) can pass through it. But I remember reading somewhere that when ...
13
votes
1answer
804 views

Are human bodies programmed to die?

Following from this question: What is the evolutionary advantage of death?: Is there any evidence that human bodies have systemic self-destruction built into their developmental program? I'm not ...
13
votes
1answer
488 views

What light intensity starts melatonin release in humans?

I'm interested in whether any studies have determined the intensity of light at eye level that starts melatonin release in humans. I know that: melatonin release is suppressed by blue light with ...