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

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Why does having cold hands hurt?

(1). Why does having cold hands create a painful sensation? Is it a physical effect, maybe a protection mechanism from evolution? (2). Why, if one's hands are cold, does it feel as if they are more ...
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309 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 ...
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5k 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 ...
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359 views

Is it purely the nervous system causing vaginal lubrication (arousal)?

My girlfriend was watching some documentary on TLC about a paralyzed woman getting pregnant. I believe that woman still has some feeling, as she spoke about feeling the effects of a bladder ...
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2k views

What is the normal duration of human sexual intercourse?

Wikipedia is saying: Men's typical ejaculatory latency is approximately 4–8 minutes How the researchers measured this? How did they know if the test subjects weren't suffering from premature ...
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442 views

Cat purring: What are some possible underlying mechanisms behind purring and bone remodeling and formation?

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-do-cats-purr The article above says that cats purr mostly when they're wounded or under duress. They hypothesis that cats purring leads to ...
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140 views

Would muscle fatigue still occur if aerobic conditions for a working muscle is maintained?

Put another way if the muscle is given everything it needs to contract and do work will it ever get tired or have a reduction in energy efficiency? As far as I understand muscles depend upon a ...
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97 views

Task-dependent “reversed” handedness: why use left hand for some tasks? How is it controlled by the brain?

I am right-handed. Which means that when I hammer down a nail, I hold the nail in my left hand, with which I can hold it straight and at a controlled position. This is true in situations where the ...
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171 views

Understanding Membrane / Resting Potential from the perspective of ions?

From wikipedia article RESTING potential: "there is no actual measurable charge excess in either side. That occurs because the effect of charge on electrochemical potential is hugely greater than ...
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646 views

What happens to a human body once a sugary snack is consumed?

I'm looking to understand the effects of sugary snacks and/or drinks on a human body. I'm particularly interested in the timing of the ingestion versus various hormonal levels that may be circadian in ...
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286 views

Can humans transdermally absorb minerals from ocean water, and if so how much?

According to several studies quoted here, chemicals can be absorbed by the skin transdermally, at least under certain conditions. When it comes to elements in seawater like sodium, magnesium, ...
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129 views

What gaseous substances do humans emit?

Other than CO2 and Methane what other gases do humans produce or emit? For example, does skin decomposition, or aerobic respiration emit any special gases that people don't normally realize or know ...
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289 views

Can I estimate leaf temperature from air temperature? What other information would be required?

Physiological measurements such as respiration rate and assimilation rate depend on temperature. Most papers report tissue temperature (e.g. leaf temperature for leaf measurements), although some ...
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124 views

What type of force holds my body rigid & doesn't make it collapse?

My query is that as atoms & its molecules have inter & intra molecular forces,like that only what type of force keeps the cells bonded to each other & prevent it from collapsing ever ...
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1answer
93 views

Disproportion in cranial nerve innervation?

The cranial nerve innervation is highly disproportionate, as far as humans are concerned. I am not sure of the advantage of being innervated by cranial nerve versus being innervated by a normal ...
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1answer
257 views

Why is membrane potential not zero at equilibrium?

For the squid giant axon, the membrane potential computed by the Goldman equation is -60mV. And the Nernst potentials are (the differences between the K+ and the Na+'s Nernst potential and the ...
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153 views

How is hibernation/aestivation different from anesthesia?

How do hibernation/aestivation happen? I read on wikipedia that a squirrel injected with the body fluids of a hibernating fellow is more prone to hibernation. If hibernation/aestivation are driven ...
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133 views

Is it possible to have life in vacuum?

I just got struck by curiosity now: Intuition says no, but I've never had confirmation of it.
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733 views

The genetic and physiological origins of laughter?

This Wikipedia article defines laughter in many terms, such as... "a visual expression of happiness, or an inward feeling of joy" and "a part of human behavior regulated by the brain, ...
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1answer
130 views

What protocol does the nervous system use?

I just read How does an inhibitory synapse communicate to the cell body of a neuron? and found myself asking this question ... hopefully I'm not asking the same thing Any body possessed of a nervous ...
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1answer
1k views

Do hot drinks cool you down?

It is quite the old wives tale that drinking a hot drink cools you down. If you don't really think about it it does seem somewhat logical: increasing temperature will cause your body to try and cool ...
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2answers
480 views

How are the gene sequences of individual sperm and egg cells “randomized”?

What I mean by "randomized" is, in the place where an egg cell or sperm cell is made, what is the mechanism by which each one is not made identically? Though I am a layman, I'm pretty sure that if the ...
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1answer
79 views

By what mechanism can hypoglycemia induce fainting?

Hypoglycemia (Low blood sugar) is said to be among the potential causes of human-faintings. I was wondering by which mechanism this happens. Google search results are abundant; there are lists of ...
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209 views

Skeletal muscles in clam

Although skeletal muscle fatigues fairly rapidly, clams have a protein called paramyosin that allows them to sustain contractions for up to a month. What might be the role of paramyosin at the ...
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1answer
804 views

How much gas is exchanged in one human breath?

When we breathe, our lungs absorb a portion of the oxygen in the air, and replace it with some amount of carbon dioxide and water vapor. Typically, how much $O_2$ (in grams, milliliters, or moles for ...
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137 views

Do dogs have something different about their physiology that allows them to pant without hyperventilating?

I was wondering this as I considered how effective panting would be for humans as a means of cooling.
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402 views

What metabolic activities are performed by a developing human fetus's liver?

I understand that organ function varies with the stages of development. Does a fetal liver EVER perform lipogenesis, gluconeogenesis, make bile, etc? Or does it only begin performing these actions ...
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26 views

Components of the concept of Developmental Noise?

Developmental noise is a concept that correspond to the amount of possible phenotypic variance of a given genotype in a given environment. Intrinsic noise (aka Cellular noise) is a component of ...
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229 views

Biological Pathway of Lipid Hypothesis

I've read a lot on both sides of the debate of low carb vs low fat diets trying to make some sense of what is being proposed. The lipid hypothesis runs roughly along the lines that we have lots of ...
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1answer
49 views

How does a Na+/H+ antiporter drive osmosis in this “osmotic motor”?

This recent paper in Cell describes a cancer cell using osmotic pressure to move in confined spaces. The cell preferentially inserts Na+/H+ antiporters in the leading membrane. I want someone to ...
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1answer
391 views

Why does it hurt more when you touch a nerve directly?

I am not a biologist nor know much about biology (so please explain in layman's terms) however I have always been curious as to why this is. What causes the difference in pain between touching an ...
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1answer
70 views

Competition for mates in sea horses

This source here ...research has shown that it is STILL the males that compete for females. says that male sea horses compete for mates but this source here Females exhibit a ...
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1answer
120 views

functional hypocholesterolemia due to very high HDL or low LDL?

Nutritional and medical recommendations about cholesterol seem to focus exclusively on hypercholesterolemia, and as such, they provide only a maximum desirable level for LDL and a minimum for HDL. ...
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3answers
89 views

How does strength of a pulse related to EKG(ECG)?

There are variabilities in the heart rate as well as strength of heartbeats. I want to know if one can predict which heartbeat will be strong or weak based on the corresponding EKG/ECG signal. I am ...
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59 views

Is the empty GI tract a hollow tube with air inside, or is it generally collapsed until food is eaten?

I have heard that "air in the GI tract" results in flatulence and burping etc, however I initially assumed that the "empty" GI tract was a hollow tube filled with air anyway. So on an empty stomach ...
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1answer
107 views

How does a pine cone open?

When a pine cone is wet, it remains closed. However, when it's dry it opens again. From the perspective of physics or biomechanics, what is the mechanism that allows a pine cone to open and close as ...
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102 views

What are some examples of scaling laws in biology?

I've seen that metabolic rate scales logarithmically as function of mass for many animals over an extremely large span of parameters. What other scaling laws exist at the individual level?
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137 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 ...
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1answer
124 views

What limits the size of fish compared to marine mammals?

The largest extant fish species is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus). With a length of 13 meters and a mass of about 20-30 metric tons, the whale shark is relatively small compared to the largest ...
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1answer
137 views

How does ethanol interact with insulin?

I know that ethanol increases insulin secretion--could someone explain why? All I have found till now is experimental data analyses. I am interested in mechanism of alcohol consumption.
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1answer
46 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 ...
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2answers
286 views

Extraretinal photoreception in mammals? [duplicate]

A Finnish firm Valkee sells light-ear-plugs against thing such as jetlag. I asked a researcher in Aalto university how do they really work and he responded ...
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1answer
311 views

What causes instinctive behaviour?

Some actions, almost behaviour, exist that are common across a species. For instance, based on personal observation, human babies try to taste anything new they encounter until they are a few score ...
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1answer
154 views

Is there a way for a 19th century scientist to prove that the octopus doesn't revive?

Say a sophiscated scientist in the 19th century noted that applying soy sauce on a dead octopus leads to movement of the legs, as a result of the voltage differences resulting from the salt in the soy ...
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1answer
148 views

Is a raised baseline between T and QRS normal in any ECG lead?

Here are excerpts from an unknown ECG lead. I find it weird that the "baseline" changes after the T wave and doesn't return until after the following QRS complex. Is that normal/expected for any lead? ...
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1answer
107 views

What happens to fecal matter if it's continually re-eaten?

After class today, the topic of eating one's one fecal matter came up. There was a sharp divide as to how people thought the defecations would change. I realize this is a bit of an odd question but ...
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1answer
92 views

Why mosquito bite is confined to a certain shape?

I think this problem should be asked in a physiology forum rather than biology@ stackex but I'll give it a try. So my question is simple - why a mosquito bite is usually confined to a certain shape ...
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1answer
75 views

Enlargement of thyroid gland

Why does thyroid gland enlarge both in hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism? Hypothyroid goitre is due to lack of iodine in diet and hyperthyroid goitre (Exopthalmic goitre, Grave's disease) is due to ...
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1answer
83 views

The mechanism of mechanoreception?

I am interested in knowing the molecular mechanism behind mechanoreception/mechanotransduction (i.e. mechanism behind receptor potential generation on mechanical stimulation). I know that most ...
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1answer
39 views

What are the molecular mechanisms that make the turtle brain more resistant to hypoxia?

I know that turtle brains, particularly those of individual species that hibernate and burrow are particularly resilient to hypoxia and any tissue damage secondary to a hypoxic event. What are the ...