8
votes
1answer
196 views

Is the squid giant axon the fastest conducting unmyelinated axon known?

The conduction velocity of the squid giant axon can reach 30 m/s. Is there any known example of an even faster conducting unmyelinated axons?
14
votes
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 ...
8
votes
2answers
282 views

How does a veggie-less diet affect the human body?

I have some question, which I'm sure would fit better in the fitness section but proper answers should probably come from someone that knows biology. My question is rather simple. How can a person ...
12
votes
10answers
860 views

A good book for history of biology/biotechnology for lay people

I have many friends who are interested in Biology and want to know more about the subject in general (like a history of biology, from Darwin's theory, to DNA structure discovery, to the human genome ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

How does a brain distinguish stimuli?

If all the brain ever "sees" is action potentials, how do we know that one set of action potentials denotes a flash of light, another one signifies a loud sound, etc ?
9
votes
1answer
504 views

How does laser surgery correct accommodation problems?

When someone undergoes laser surgery to improve eyesight, how does it correct accommodation problems? Why does it not help presbyopia?
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 ...
8
votes
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?
7
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the function(s) of Alu elements in the cell?

My 2008 biology book (1) states that some 10% of the human genome consists of relatively short (~300 nucleotides long) Alu elements which do not code for proteins but many of which are transcribed ...
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, ...
8
votes
1answer
182 views

Do antigens protrude through the capsule/slime layer in prokaryotic organisms where these features are present?

In prokaryotic organisms that have a slime layer or capsule, do intrinsic/extrinsic proteins and other molecules that could be used as antigens protrude through the capsule? I assume that they ...
17
votes
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
138 views

Acknowledging differentiation of species, in historical times

This is at least partly an historical question, and I am not even remotely a biologist of any sort, so apologies beforehand if it's a little obscure. I often wonder how many distinctions were made in ...
9
votes
2answers
162 views

Are there viruses that affect many kinds of cells across species?

I'm not a professional in biology nor a student, but I'm curious about this. To be more specific: why doesn't a plant virus affect animal cells? I suspect that different kinds of cells have different ...
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 ...
9
votes
1answer
426 views

What is the modern state of the theory of evolution?

When I studied biology at my medical school we used to learn things about a century old: the famous Darwin's voyage on "Beagle" to the Galapagos Islands, the classical triad of his Theory of ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

How does the stem-loop cause intrinsic transcription termination?

In this animation, towards the end (about three quarters) the process of transcription termination is shown. It states that the transcribed RNA forms a hairpin loop (or stem-loop), which halts the ...
12
votes
2answers
175 views

Why is the microbial ecosystem of the gut so susceptible to disruption by pathogens?

From all accounts, it seems as if the Escherichia, Enterobacter, etc. that live and thrive in the human gut are pretty well entrenched. I know that these microbial populations are often analyzed as ...
13
votes
4answers
43k views

Why is DNA replication performed in the 5' to 3' direction?

DNA replication goes in the 5' to 3' direction because DNA polymerase acts on the 3'-OH of the existing strand for adding free nucleotides. Is there any biochemical reason why all organisms evolved to ...
5
votes
1answer
968 views

How does the Golgi Apparatus perform its function?

The Golgi Apparatus is an organelle with a great number of functions, I am particularly intrigued in the role it plays in packaging macromolecules and sending them to their target organelle or to ...
16
votes
1answer
302 views

Why does regular exercise increase brain volume?

It has been shown in several studies that regular aerobic exercise increases brain volume in aging humans. The changes were observed in hippocampus and were correlated with dramatic reduction of ...
10
votes
1answer
328 views

What is the functional and structural distinction between core (H2A, H2B, H3,H4) and linker(H1/H5) histones?

Many explanations of histone biochemistry isn't quite elucidating for the undergraduate student. How does histone structure (dimers, octomers) relate to their specific functions as core or linker ...
7
votes
1answer
151 views

Which human cell lines do not express the GLP-1 receptor?

I need a human cell line that does not express the GLP-1 (glucagon like peptide-1) receptor. I'm working with HeLa cells, do those express the GLP-1 receptor? Which other cell lines exist that don't ...
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 ...
22
votes
4answers
4k views

What does the human body use oxygen for besides the final electron acceptor in the electron transport chain?

My biology teachers never explained why animals need to breathe oxygen, just that we organisms die if we don't get oxygen for too long. Maybe one of them happened to mention that its used to make ATP. ...
41
votes
4answers
3k views

Why do plants have green leaves and not red?

I know plants are green due to chlorophyll. Surely it would be more beneficial for plants to be red than green as by being green they reflect green light and do not absorb it even though green light ...
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, ...
14
votes
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?
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Alternatives to ethidium bromide for staining small nucleic acids?

While ethidium bromide works well for staining larger single-stranded RNA or double-stranded DNA molecules, it doesn't stain smaller nucleic acids very well. I observed that at around 20 bases and ...
7
votes
1answer
737 views

What is the mechanism of transgene integration (from expression vector to the host genome)?

How does a transgene (in vector) integrate to the host genome? (e.g. in glass bead method, neither biolistic nor agrobacterium). I already cut some parts (NdeI-PciI) of the vector (pUC18) and ...
10
votes
1answer
196 views

What would be the conduction speed of A-alpha fibers, were they unmyelinated?

It's known (Hursh 1939) that myelinated axons exhibit the behavior $v = 6d$, where $v$ is the propagation speed [m/s] and $d$ is the axon diameter [μm]. A related relation for unmyelinated axons is ...
9
votes
1answer
108 views

Are Schwann cells the sole source of myelination in PNS?

Are Schwann cells the only source of myelin for axons in the peripheral nervous system, or are there other neuroglia or other processes that result in myelination of PNS axons?
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
90 views

What are the variables that control/influence the color of oranges(Citrus sinensis)?

I hear that Oranges cultivated in tropical areas of the world tend to be greener when ripe, is that correct? Even the same type of Orange differs in color if cultivated in California or Florida. I ...
7
votes
2answers
201 views

Is “exhaustion” of the Hodgkin-Huxley membrane at constant stimulation a real phenomenon?

I was playing around with a simulation of the Hodgkin-Huxley model using their original parameters for the squid giant axon. By applying a constant stimulation current to the model in resting state, ...
32
votes
4answers
1k views

Can scientists create totally synthetic life?

This particular question has been of a great deal of interest to me, especially since it dives at the heart of abiogenesis.
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?
12
votes
1answer
206 views

Abiogenesis: Beyond the research journals as a lead in to discussions on evolution

I just came across this abstract: Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) are responsible for creating the pool of correctly charged aminoacyl-tRNAs that are necessary for the translation of genetic ...
6
votes
3answers
263 views

Where can I find the common names for the zoology taxonomy?

Forgive me if my question does not belong here or if I'm using incorrect terms, but I'm not educated in biology at all. I'm investigating the workings of the biological classification system. I was ...
11
votes
1answer
440 views

How do CpG islands remain unmethylated?

In most of the genome CpG sites are pretty much always methylated, but CpG islands are instead often unmethylated. This has been linked to the fact that they often are associated to transcripted ...
13
votes
1answer
8k views

What effect has changing pH and salt concentration on protein complexes?

I'm struggling to find peer reviewed literature that explains the effect of changing the pH and the salt concentration on protein/protein complexes in solution. What effect does the pH and the salt ...
12
votes
4answers
291 views

Online repositories of scanning electron microscope photographs?

I have looked at every single Wikimedia commons photo in the category 'scanning electron microscope'. Unfortunately, I could not find any other repositories of such photos, but I would readily look at ...
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. ...
25
votes
7answers
410 views

Has there been any observation of species adapting the evolution process?

I am very interested in the evolution of the evolution process itself. There are of course a lot of things that influence how evolution will work, but for this question, I am interested in things that ...
10
votes
1answer
131 views

Are these Gram stain substitutions acceptable?

In the context of a Gram stain on a blood smear: Are the following acceptable substitutions and/or what differences could arise by substituting them? Using methylene blue instead of crystal violet ...
11
votes
1answer
145 views

Is Batesian Mimicry a form a parasitism? To what extent is the species with real defenses harmed by the defenceless species?

It seems like Müllerian mimicry would be an example of mutualism because both species would end up being eaten less by predators that only have to learn one pattern of warning symbols. But to what ...
17
votes
2answers
424 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
70 views

Is there a photobleaching-resistant, cell-permeant viability stain in the far red part of the spectrum?

I am looking for a live-cell–impermeable dye for viability. (The cells cannot be permeabilized and fixed in this experiment.) I would prefer with excitation and emission spectra similar to Cy5, but I ...
9
votes
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 ...
16
votes
2answers
346 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 ...

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