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

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28
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1answer
652 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 ...
20
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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 ...
17
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3answers
812 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 ...
17
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2answers
330 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 ...
17
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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
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1answer
19k 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.
16
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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
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3answers
279 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.
14
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3answers
383 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
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1answer
881 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
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1answer
1k 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 ...
12
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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?
12
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2answers
2k 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 ?
12
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2answers
431 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 ...
12
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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?
12
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2answers
345 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
154 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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3answers
761 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 ...
10
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2answers
330 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
262 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 ...
10
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1answer
101 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 ...
10
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1answer
133 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
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1answer
158 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 ...
9
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3answers
786 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 ...
9
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1answer
551 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 ...
9
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1answer
185 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
3answers
560 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 ...
8
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3answers
462 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
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2answers
327 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?
8
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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
8
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2answers
370 views

Why is blood pressure higher the more distal an artery is?

Why is blood pressure generally higher in more distal arteries?
8
votes
1answer
294 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 ...
8
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1answer
189 views

Does the oxygen concentration equilibrate between red blood cells in the liver sinusoids?

In the sinusoids of the liver, venous blood from the hepatic portal system mixes with arterial blood from the hepatic arteries. Do oxygen molecules move between oxygenated RBCs and non-oxygenated ...
8
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1answer
89 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?
8
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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 ...
7
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. ...
7
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5answers
295 views

Why is the human body able to repair a broken bone and not a heart muscle?

The human body can repair skin/organ laceration, fractures, even repair nerves - albeit the duration and rate of recovery differ. For instance: The burn scar on my arm from the hot soldering iron ...
7
votes
3answers
107 views

Where does extra blood come from to fill your muscles during exercise?

Let's say I go to the gym and lift some weights an hour. During this time my arms will grow due to the "pump" -- the extra blood rushing in to feed the muscles. For example, I've measured about 2-3 ...
7
votes
1answer
543 views

Crusty eyes in the morning

Often, after waking up from a night's sleep hard, flaky, pale yellow crystals are deposited around the eyelids (which easily wash off with water). What are these? Why are they yellow? What are they ...
7
votes
1answer
581 views

Does the human ear adapt to noise levels?

I have noticed lately that if I go to sleep, when I have my radio running, it is on lowest volume, I still consider it kind of loud. In the morning, when being on the edge of waking up, I hear the ...
7
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1answer
255 views

Do mosquitoes need to pump blood out of the host?

Many species of mosquitoes have bloodsucking females. When they bite a host, do they need to pump? Or does the sheer blood pressure combined with capillary action suffice to make the blood rush into ...
7
votes
1answer
160 views

Can oxygen diffuse out through the lungs?

Let's say you accidentally walk into a room pressurized with pure nitrogen (or you're jettisoned into space). Within a couple of seconds, the partial pressure of oxygen within your lungs drops to 0. ...
7
votes
1answer
65 views

Excretion of monovalent and divalent ions in sharks

I have heard that sharks excrete $\ce{Na+}$ and $\ce{Cl-}$ by their gill surfaces but divalent ions like magnesium are excreted through feces. What could be the reason behind this?
7
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1answer
751 views

What really happens when a body is tired?

This may be anecdotal; please feel free to vote to close. After staying awake for an extended duration, I usually find myself having to take extra effort to focus my eyes on an object. Similarly ...
7
votes
1answer
169 views

Are cerebellar basket and stellate neurons actually different cell types?

The title more or less says it all, but to contextualise a bit: Cerebellar molecular layer interneurons have been classified, probably since Cajal, into the basket cells, which synapse onto the soma ...
7
votes
1answer
192 views

Why are some menstrual cycles irregular?

A friend of mine asked me this today, and I didn't know. I remember studying the menstrual cycle a few years ago, but I can't remember the details (other than it was very hormone-related), and so I ...
7
votes
3answers
156 views

How does one maintain balance sleepwalking?

Anectodal. Feel free to shoot it down. Walking is an acquired skill; As far as I'm concerned exhaustion causes disorientation. Even after waking up it sometimes takes a second or so to get balanced. ...
6
votes
2answers
959 views

Do women have testosterone?

In a documentary on fitness I saw it was stated that women can't get big like men because of their low concentration of testosterone. If it is true that women have testosterone, where is it made? Why ...
6
votes
1answer
427 views

What causes the characteristic 'gleam' in the eye of a living being?

The title is pretty much what I seek to know. Unless the other person is play-acting, one can often make out the eye of a living person has a shine-of-life to it; a cadaver does not. Similarly the ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

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 ...