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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8
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4answers
2k views

Why we have no enzyme to digest cellulose?

As we know, cellulose is the most abundant polysaccharide in nature. Why don't we have any enzyme to digest cellulose?
8
votes
1answer
3k views

Effects of Polyphasic vs Monophasic sleep in humans

Why do humans practice monophasic sleep cycles? When altering one's circadian rhythm to a Polyphasic sleep schedule, how much would that affect development? Is Monophasic sleep (once per day) ...
7
votes
1answer
104 views

What happens when we know that there is something that we forgot but we can't remember what it was?

I think it happens for everyone that sometimes we go to a room and forget why we went there. Is there any research or article on this?
3
votes
2answers
768 views

Ill effects of urea and NH₃ on metabolism

What exactly does urea do that harms our body? Does it interfere with our cellular processes or disturbs the colloidal onchotic pressure of our blood? I have heard that NH3 damages the brain. What ...
22
votes
1answer
12k 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?
19
votes
3answers
22k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Where does the 'C' in exhaled CO₂ mostly come from?

When a human being exhales CO₂, what is, by the numbers, the main source of carbon atoms exiting the body in this way? I mean what class of cells, or which tissues are the biggest on a pie chart of ...
11
votes
2answers
415 views

Could an “overactive” brain increase the chances of Alzheimer's Disease?

From Raichle ME. 2010. Two views of brain function. Trends in cognitive sciences 14: 180–90: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of progressive cognitive decline and dementia in ...
10
votes
3answers
346 views

Athletes: nature vs. nurture?

Having watched a lot of olympians the last few weeks, I was struck by how many of them have actually spent their wholes lives/careers training for their one event (be in running a marathon, or ...
10
votes
2answers
253 views

What can the timing of human urination tell about the human's physical condition and circadian rhythms?

I've noticed a peculiar phenomenon. A subject drinks 400 ml of water, then observes time until the urge to urinate is felt. The time is 15 minutes. The subject releases water. 14 minutes later another ...
9
votes
2answers
26k views

Which shades/hues of color are easiest to distinguish for humans?

I'm trying to represent data graphically and am using a variation of hue/lightness to distinguish one data point from the next. I would like to use a color that would allow me to convey most ...
9
votes
1answer
110 views

Why is there an extended delay before G.M. liver cells are attacked by the immune system?

In this BBC article a trial is described where patients with B-Haemophillia are infected with modified Adeno-associated Virus 8 which contained the genes for Factor IX clotting protein. Trials seemed ...
8
votes
1answer
962 views

What is the female equivalent of the morning erection that some men experience?

There was question about what causes "morning wood." It was answered that the erection in the morning is caused by decline of norepinephrine during REM sleep. Which in part allows to prevent ...
8
votes
2answers
752 views

How much weight/volume do microbes occupy within the human body?

Microorganisms constitute the bulk of all the biomass on Earth. I weighed myself yesterday, and wondered how much less I would weigh if I were completely free of bacteria and microbes, inside and out. ...
8
votes
1answer
229 views

How do the pharmacodynamics of the NSAIDs differ and are there “resistant” COX phenotypes?

I know that the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen) affect the enzymes cyclooxygenase (types I and II). Is there any difference in the degree to which these ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

What causes the colors we see in eyes?

Genetics aside, what are the biochemical reasons the different colours of human irises? Also, related, how does eye colour change, particularly in childhood? (example: my eyes used to be blue, ...
6
votes
1answer
180 views

How does skin healing work?

I stacked my bike and split my head right open. About three weeks later the scab falls off and the skin is sealed over, like magic! How does it all work? How does the brain know that part of the ...
5
votes
1answer
123 views

Getting goosebumps at will

I can get goosebumps at will, regardless of the environment. Its mostly visible on my arms, and I can feel it on my head. It requires some level of concentration to achieve this. My questions are : ...
5
votes
1answer
616 views

Are there any effects of elevated Cysteine levels on cognitive function?

I'm looking at this diagram of homocysteine metabolism and see two distinct pathways that the amino acid may get metabolized to: with vitamin B12 it gets converted back into methionine, while with B6 ...
4
votes
2answers
328 views

Why doesn't the human skin grow back exactly how it was before being damaged?

Very simple: Why (and how) is regenerated skin different from original ? As we know we lose skin cells that becomes the dust in out homes and it always grows back to full thickness right ? So when I ...
4
votes
1answer
101 views

What light intensity determines the start/end of a photoperiod in humans?

I'm reading this article, which discusses the influence of Long Photoperiod (LP) and Short Photoperiod (SP) on melatonin production: HIOMT drives the photoperiodic changes in the amplitude of the ...
2
votes
1answer
73 views

How many different smells can a human recognize?

How many different smells can a human recognize? If the space of smells is not discrete, how many dimensions it has (for example, the space of colors is three-dimensional).
1
vote
2answers
114 views

Which was the last significant event in human evolution? What's next?

At 10.000 BC (12 ka), we became the last of the Homo species on Earth. In evolutionary terms this is a very little time range to something happen, but I'm wondering anyway, in this meantime which are ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

What would be the best design for spike-and-recovery and linearity-of-dilution validation experiments in one 96-well ELISA plate?

I have searched in the web for a detailed explanation of doing such validation experiment, but unfortunately couldn't find a satisfactory one. I came across the following sources: Thermo ...
19
votes
2answers
8k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
155 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 ...
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, ...
11
votes
1answer
773 views

Is there an evolutionary advantage to crying when sad?

It seems as though the act of crying when sad does nothing to relieve that sadness. Is there an advantage to crying from an evolutionary perspective, or is it the end result of a different process? ...
10
votes
1answer
312 views

Can Naegleria fowleri enter through wounds into the bloodstream?

All the sources I've read said that Naegleria fowleri enters the brain through the nose. But lets say that someone had cuts on their arm or leg and they are swimming in water that is conducive to ...
10
votes
1answer
128 views

What portions of the brain have drastic changes in activation when we “sense” someone is there?

I was watching an old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie ("Commando") where he plays an elite soldier (surprise). An enemy tries to sneak up on him, and Arnold says that he smelled the other guy ...
8
votes
1answer
9k views

What is the composition of human feces?

Are there any studies or general information on the composition of human feces? I'd specifically like to know the percentage of carbohydrates and amino acids relative to the amount that was ingested ...
8
votes
1answer
4k views

How does sodium in one's diet affect blood pressure?

Due to high blood pressure, my doctor has recommended I go on a low-sodium diet. So, that got me wondering what it is about sodium that drives this recommendation? What does sodium do to a body ...
7
votes
1answer
111 views

Why can you not tickle yourself?

It's the age old question, why can't we tickle ourselves? If you rub your fingers along your skin, sure there's sensation but you don't break down into a laughing fit (at least I don't :P), if someone ...
7
votes
2answers
265 views

What is the eye muscle status when you stare at distant view through a glass wall?

The book said when you look at object close to you, the eye muscles contract and vice versa. I wonder what will be the status of the eye muscles when I stare at distance view (such as a mountain) ...
6
votes
2answers
150 views

How would the human body adjust to sleep times if we were to live in a place with different day lengths?

You sleep at night and are active during the day that's how things work for humans, but theoretically if a human whose parents lived on earth were to be born in another planet resembling earth but the ...
6
votes
1answer
429 views

Why don't we have hair on palms?

We have hair all over the body except palms. What is the biological reason behind this? Thanks
6
votes
2answers
8k views

Can positive and negative blood type of a couple lead to miscarriage?

I want to know can $+ve$ and $-ve$ blood group of a couple could be a cause of miscarriage in pregnancy?
6
votes
1answer
235 views

Is there a normal human melatonin concentration to light level curve?

I'm looking for a graph or a curve that would show the typical concentration of melatonin in blood or saliva for humans over 24 hours. It would be good to know the photoperiod for the same human as ...
6
votes
2answers
228 views

Is there such thing as a generic “metabolic type”?

A while ago I picked up a book called "Eat right for your metabolic type". The book discussed the effects of the endocrine system on the overall shape and the speed of metabolism. The book outlined ...
5
votes
2answers
48 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Why does it hurt when you take sweets, if you have cavities in your teeth?

When you have cavities in your teeth taking any sweetend drinks or food causes sensitivity or pain. What could be the reason?
5
votes
2answers
583 views

The probability of indirect human fertilization?

What is the probability of conception in situations when sperm isn't directly ejaculated into the woman's vagina, like: The man's or the woman's hands come into contact with sperm, for example when ...
4
votes
3answers
135 views

Why can't you just take a vitamin? Why you need a healthy diet on top of that?

From what I understand, your body needs certain amounts of vitamins and minerals to maintain health. Why can't we just take enough pills to obtain these vitamins and minerals?
4
votes
2answers
174 views

Where do the 31 spinal nerves start/meet?

Which part of the brain is the first place (from top to bottom) where all 31 pairs of spinal nerves (on each side) meet? Or if they all start at one place - where is that? Nominally, the beginning of ...
4
votes
1answer
5k views

Does mixing alcoholic drinks really make you more drunk?

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence ("beer after wine and you'll feel fine, wine after beer will make you feel queer") that mixing alcoholic drink types leads to a stronger effect, but I can't find ...
4
votes
2answers
119 views

Ultrasound during pregnancy

In a hospital I can see a long queue of pregnant women waiting for their turn for ultrasound. Is it safe to go through the ultrasound during pregnancy, especially during last few weeks? Is ...
4
votes
1answer
300 views

Human sleep cycles and dream times, what influences the timing and intensity? Sleep history included

I'm doing sleep and dreams research and have developed an iPhone application to help me track my bedtime, rise time, sleep onset and also mark dreams. The app also monitors overall activity overnight ...
3
votes
1answer
281 views

How are melatonin levels measured in humans?

I'm wondering how it is possible to measure diurnal variations of melatonin levels in humans. I keep reading that there should be a large difference in amplitude between melatonin levels measured at ...
3
votes
0answers
112 views

What controls the feeling of discomfort/comfort before and after sleep?

I'm interested in which biological systems or hormones are involved in the following phenomenon: Before sleep it may be difficult to find a comfortable position, and muscular aches and pains are more ...
3
votes
1answer
428 views

Could inhibition of progerin formation slow the rate at which a body ages?

According to wikipedia, progerin is activated in senescent cells. The protein itself is known to be the cause of a rare affliction 'progeria' - a disease marked by accelerated aging of the body. This ...