The study of the normal function of living organisms and the means by which it is achieved.

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4answers
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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 ...
32
votes
1answer
899 views

What is itching?

What exactly at the molecular level is itching? What physiological function does itching serve, if any? I cant remember the reference but a PLCb3 null mice lost the itch phenotype, so presumably it is ...
30
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5answers
2k views

Why are there no organisms with metal body parts, like weapons, bones, and armour? (Or are there?)

Reading this question, Why are there no wheeled animals?, I wondered why no organisms seem to make use of the tensile and other strengths of metal, as we do in metal tools and constructions. I am ...
28
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3answers
5k 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 ...
22
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2answers
2k views

Why does an electrical shock freeze up muscles?

Why is it when someone comes into contact with an electrical supply that their body freezes up and is unable to move away from the electrical source? Can someone explain this through a physiological ...
21
votes
3answers
377 views

How is the blood volume of a living organism measured without killing it?

How is the blood-volume of an organism measured without killing it? Note:The blood-volume of an organism is defined as the total volume of blood present inside that organism.
20
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3answers
2k views

Why is high fructose corn syrup unhealthy?

I understand that high fructose corn syrup was found to have detrimental effects on peoples' health. Why is this so?
20
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3answers
3k views

Is there any use of CO₂ in human body?

We all know CO₂ as a waste product of metabolism . Does CO₂ have any helpful role , apart from having a role in pH of blood ?
19
votes
1answer
22k views

Why is coffee a laxative?

How does caffeine (or any additional agents) act as a laxative when ingested? I'm interested in the metabolic/signaling pathway.
18
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3answers
491 views

Are human fetuses more likely to be male? [duplicate]

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 ...
18
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2answers
351 views

How does the microbial environment in your gut initiate?

Clearly, a zygote does not harbor any microbes. As it develops, and the alimentary canal tissue is differentiated, I logically assume that there is still no microbial activity in the fetus's gut. I'm ...
18
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2answers
5k 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
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3answers
1k views

Why does the face turn pale in dangerous situations?

I know what the effects are of a dangerous situation on the brain, i.e., an activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis which eventually results in an increased heart rate and elevated ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Do animals exist with an uneven total number of digits?

I recently finished reading Contact by Carl Sagan. In the book they talk about a pattern in the transcendental number like pi or e, and comment that it is found in base 10 or however many fingers the ...
16
votes
1answer
135 views

What is the mechanism responsible for the periodicity of hiccups?

Hiccups (singultus) are caused by involuntary spasm of the intercostal muscles and diaphragm, producing a sudden inspiration with associated glottic closure. It seems the neurobiology of the reflex ...
15
votes
2answers
1k 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
3answers
1k views

Do men have more extreme variations than women?

This question was considered unsuitable for Skeptics and I think it is more suited to BIology than Cognitive Sciences I was reading this article which I found interesting. It is not supported with ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

Why do some mammals not have testes in a scrotum?

Coming from an evolutionary approach, Is the only purpose of a scrotum to regulate the temperature of the testes? Knowing all mammals are warm blooded, shouldn't all mammals have testes in a ...
13
votes
2answers
640 views

Is the 'fluttering feeling' when under stress neurological or physical?

I'm sure that everyone is familiar with the sensation commonly known as "butterflies in the stomach". It is commonly experienced during periods of anxiety or stress (e.g. before high stakes job ...
13
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2answers
2k views

How do insects breathe?

Do ants even breathe? If they don't, how do they stay alive? On what resources do they depend upon to stay alive? How are they different form mammals?
13
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1answer
1k views

How did the huge dinosaurs cope with gravity and loads on bones, etc.?

It's very costly to be a huge animal. Your mass grows in cube when you scale up, but you still only have two/four legs to support the same weight. This increases the pressure that your body needs to ...
13
votes
0answers
2k views

Why do we experience temperatures below 37 degrees Celsius as 'hot'? [duplicate]

We always prefer to be in 20-25° C, although our core temperature is about 37°? Why is our skin temperature lower than our core temperature?
12
votes
2answers
646 views

Why do we urinate more when we are nervous?

This question is a result of my personal experience... But I guess that is common for many of us. My school timing is 8:00 am to 1:30 pm (usually). During normal school days I typically urinate one ...
12
votes
2answers
380 views

Is there any reason for the variation in mitochondrial DNA size?

As my textbook An Introduction to Genetic Analysis points out, yeast mitochondrial DNA has approximately 78 kb of genetic data, while the human mitochondrial DNA contains 17 kb. Is there any evolution ...
12
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3answers
187 views

How are long time periods measured in biological systems?

Biological systems are pretty good at measuring fairly long times, for example, menstrual cycles (month), or puberty (years). Counting days or years seems to be implausible, and chemical concentration ...
11
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2answers
453 views

Below which temperature human muscles don't work?

When one exposes theirs body parts to cold environment (especially foot and hands), they may be numb, with temporarily blocked both muscles. What is typical body temperature below which human muscles ...
11
votes
1answer
367 views

How can an albatross stay airborne for months?

Albatrosses, of the biological family Diomedeidae, are large seabirds allied to the procellariids, storm-petrels and diving-petrels in the order Procellariiformes. They range widely in the Southern ...
11
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1answer
113 views

To which distinctions does the term “hymenoptera” refer?

Hymenoptera is an order of insects that includes bees, ants, and wasps. A quick search gives the following etymological analysis of the term hymenoptera. hymen (membrane) + pteron (wing) Does ...
11
votes
1answer
107k views

What causes random long white body hairs?

I'm sure many of you have experienced this - you scratch your back or brush your hand over your arm and find a ridiculously long thin white hair, sometimes as long as 3 or 4 inches. I know a few ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

How can we differentiate between respiration and breathing?

I am a student of 10th grade, and I eagerly want to learn biology. What is the difference between respiration and breathing?
10
votes
2answers
1k views

How do we know the presence of light when our eyes are closed?

Last night I laid on my bed and tried to go to sleep with the light off. I closed my eyes (but hadn't gone to sleep). My younger brother touched the wireless mouse (which had laser) for the laptop. ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Do snakes get dizzy?

I've seen snakes get captured in sacks and I've wondered if the snake would get dizzy if the sack were twirled around. I have not done any tests (and don't plan to) because snakes scare me.
10
votes
4answers
836 views

Do tall people have more cells?

Within a single species, how does the relative number of cells in the body relate to the relative size of the organism? Let's say we take two humans, one of them is 6 feet tall and the other one is 5 ...
10
votes
1answer
245 views

Why doesn't HDL cause diseases like LDL? [duplicate]

LDL particles pose a risk for cardiovascular disease when they invade the endothelium and become oxidized, since the oxidized forms are more easily retained by the proteoglycans. A complex set of ...
10
votes
1answer
755 views

Is trembling an advantageous response during periods of anxiety?

I originally had planned to ask about whether there was any biological truth in the popular phrase "shivering with fright". However, after doing a fair bit of googling it seems that there is a lot ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

How long can a bee surive in a jar?

So, some people and I encountered an adventure game where you have a bee in a jar and need to move it from place to place before it suffocates, and someone tried to find out how long a bee would ...
10
votes
1answer
166 views

Were dinosaurs 'hot-blooded' or 'cold-blooded'?

Were dinosaurs hot-blooded or cold-blooded? NOTE: The popular term 'hot-blooded' means having an internally maintained average body temperature, which is generally more than that of the surroundings, ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Effects of beer on muscle recovery after exercise

I noticed it several times that when I drink beer (even one bottle) after some heavy workout, the next day my muscles are more stiff than other times, and not the same way... Is it because that ...
10
votes
1answer
203 views

Does stress physically age our body?

Going by the assumption that stress eventually triggers a flight/fight response, and the subsequent realization that flight/fight puts the body in a system of readiness to use it's available resources ...
10
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3answers
1k views

How are our senses dimmed during sleep?

Our senses are not as sensitive during sleep compared to wake. There is an arousal threshold during sleep that only when it is overcome will it wake a person up. My question is how is this arousal ...
9
votes
4answers
11k views

What is the cause of muscle cramps?

According to wikipedia, muscle cramps are caused by myosin fibers not being able to break free from the actin filaments during contraction, resulting in a prolonged contraction. Obviously a lack of ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

How do the lungs act as a sieve to trap blood clots?

Does anyone know? I'm curious to find out as my human anatomy and physiology book doesn't go into much detail on how the lungs function as such
9
votes
1answer
122 views

What is the convention for log notation in biology?

I'm reading through some oldish (1980s) papers on length-weight relationships in fish and crustaceans. Many report log-log relationships without specifying whether this is natural log, base 10, etc. ...
9
votes
1answer
198 views

What are the effects of caffeine on the mammalian circulatory system?

A friend of mine told me an anecdote about his mother, who drank too much caffeine, to the point she became hypotensive and would pass out. Because caffeine acts as a stimulant, I'm assuming the ...
9
votes
2answers
183 views

Should we induce fever to assist healing?

I am currently reading "The Fundamentals of Anatomy Physiology" 10th edition, and have found it an incredibly interesting book. I have just been reading about the lymphatic system, and the various ...
9
votes
2answers
110 views

Why can good music raise goosebumps?

Listening to really good music right now, I was wondering why it raises goosebumps. Is there any physiological reason for this reaction to specific wavelengths or something? EDIT: Due sometimes ...
9
votes
1answer
115 views

Why pouring salt in the wounds is painful?

Pouring salt in the wounds is so painful. I am sure you all experienced this. whats happend there?
9
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3answers
378 views

What causes feeling of feet falling asleep to be delayed?

This answer explains the sensation of extremities "falling asleep" as a result of sustained pressure on a nerve. The answer links to an external web page that says that the feeling "quickly goes away ...
8
votes
3answers
621 views

What triggers meiosis in gonadal cells?

What specific biochemical processes are involved in inducing meiosis rather than mitosis? Why are gonadal cells the only cells in the human body which do undergo meiosis?
8
votes
2answers
379 views

Where do the bacteria within the vagina originate from?

I understand that it's feasible the bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract originate from the food we eat and air we breath, but where does this population of microbes originate from?