56
votes
5answers
10k views

Does DNA have the equivalent of IF-statements, WHILE loops, or function calls? How about GOTO?

Does DNA have anything like IF-statements, GOTO-jumps, or WHILE loops? In software development, these constructs have the following functions: IF-statements: An IF statement executes the code in a ...
45
votes
5answers
3k views

Life without DNA?

I'm by no means an expert in the field, merely a curious visitor, but I've been thinking about this and Google isn't of much help. Do we know of any lifeforms that don't have the conventional ...
10
votes
3answers
845 views

Mathematical Modelling of Natural Selection

I'm a math undergrad looking for some papers on modelling the process of natural selection. The only paper I've been able to find is by the pre-eminent mathematician Herbert Wilf from 2010, There's ...
42
votes
4answers
26k views

Death because of distilled water consumption

One of my friends said that I would die if I drank distilled water (we were using it in a chemistry experiment) I gave it a go and surprisingly did not die. I did a bit of Googling and found this ...
10
votes
7answers
4k views

How did the first self replicating organism come into existence?

When people try to explain evolution, they tell me that evolution is a cumulative result of mutations & natural section of the more superior individuals of a particular species. I think I'm fairly ...
27
votes
3answers
3k views

Can humans perceive sounds above 20 kHz?

In the never-ending debate raging in the audiophile community about sound quality and what humans can or cannot hear, it is very very very very incredibly often cited that the upper-limit of the ...
27
votes
4answers
13k views

Is there any advantage to one blood type over another?

All humans can be grouped into ABO and Rh+/- blood groups (at a minimum). Is there any advantage at all to one group or the other? This article hints that there are some pathogens that display a ...
16
votes
3answers
967 views

Are single-celled organisms capable of learning?

I've read that the amoeba is capable of learning. Since these protists have no nervous system, it's safe to assume that even highly simplified learning mechanisms of the Aplysia are miles off in the ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Are human bodies programmed to die?

Following from this question: What is the evolutionary advantage of death?: Is there any evidence that human bodies have systemic self-destruction built into their developmental program? I'm not ...
32
votes
5answers
1k views

Why do men have nipples?

I'd be tempted to call nipples in men vestigial, but that suggests they have no modern function. They do have a function, of course, but only in women. So why do men (and all male mammals) have them? ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Why are men stronger than women?

What are the evolutionary explanations for why women are weaker than men (on average), and is this difference adaptive? See figure one here. I suppose that something puts pressure on men to be ...
31
votes
4answers
72k 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
797 views

How many times did endosymbiosis occur?

According to the endosymbiont theory, mitochondria and chloroplasts originated as bacteria which were engulfed by larger cells. How many times is it estimated that this occurred in the past? Are there ...
20
votes
3answers
413 views

Good source that explains the evolution of single-celled organisms “from scratch”

Are there any books or sites that detail, step-by-step, the evolution of the first single-celled organisms (bacteria, archaea) from a Miller-Urey-like beginning? That is, assumes only amino acids, ...
19
votes
5answers
5k views

Why do the two hemispheres of the brain control the opposite sides of the body?

Why does the left hemisphere control the right and the right hemisphere control the left? I googled it but didn't find a good answer regarding this. Could someone explain? Does this adaptation help ...
17
votes
5answers
841 views

Pipetting damage on cells

I'm curious how much damage is potentially inflicted by shear stress by pipetting. I know that with syringes for stem cell injection cause a lot of damage. However, to what extend does this happen ...
15
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

When has an organism evolved enough to be called a new species?

Imagine that we take a population of horses, split them in half and place them in completely different environments. The two species will evolve separate from each other and because the environment is ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

If body temperature is 37°C (98.6°F), why are most people more comfortable at around 21°C (70°F)?

It may be different for other people, but for me, anything above 32°C (90°F) is very uncomfortable, and my body is inclined to seek cooler temperatures. But I would think that at 32°C, the body would ...
11
votes
3answers
553 views

What does irregular heartbeat mean in simple language?

I bought a blood pressure monitor (A&D UA-851) which has the option to measure irregular heartbeat. I do understand what 'irregular' means, but why do irregular heartbeats happen and what are ...
10
votes
3answers
9k views

Do apes and humans share 99% of DNA or 99% of genes? What is the difference?

I made an answer on the Scifi.SE that can be read here. It is about how the characters in the story Jurassic Park might have gotten DNA for all the species shown. In my answer, I said this: Apes ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Can you consider a human as alive, or is it the cells on the body that are alive?

Sorry if this question seems strange, but in the recent time I have been interested in the question of what life is and how you can define life. My question: How long can individual cells live on a ...
7
votes
2answers
152 views

How does Natural Selection shape Genetic Variation?

Background Importance of the additive genetic variance As stated here, the fundamental theorem of Natural Selection (NS) by Fisher says: The rate of increase in the mean fitness of any organism ...
15
votes
3answers
624 views

Why do some trees have a life span, while some don't?

I have heard that there is no limit on the growth of trees, but then why do some trees, such as boxelders and poplars, tend to live shorter than redwoods, for example? Some advertisements for improved ...
12
votes
2answers
31k views

How many human cells are there in our body, on average?

How many human cells are there in our body, on average? Wikipedia says 1013: Bacterial cells are much smaller than human cells, and there are at least ten times as many bacteria as human cells in ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does hair turn grey or white, and why does it happen later for some?

The question is pretty simple: what is happening molecularly when hair turns grey or white? I would imagine that it is due to the lack of a particular compound. I'm also interested in why some ...
11
votes
5answers
613 views

What is meant in biology by the term “evolved”?

A student asked me this the other day and I thought that I would ask it again here. If one organism is said to be "more evolved" than another, what exactly does this mean?
9
votes
3answers
4k views

Why can all animals swim in water without learning to swim but humans cannot?

I had a question since I was a child. I was always curious about the fact that all animals can swim in water. They don't need any training or to learn swimming. But humans need to learn to swim. Why ? ...
9
votes
2answers
145 views

What role does a protein's size have on protein-protein interactions?

Protein-protein interactions are when two or more proteins bind together, possibly for some important biological function. Recently, I'm starting to look more into proteins, and in particular, ...
8
votes
1answer
206 views

Is it a limitation of the eyes, or the brain, that we can't see a moving bullet?

Are the photoreceptors in our eyes not fast enough to register the fast moving bullet, or is the brain not powerful enough to make sense of something happening that fast?
8
votes
1answer
951 views

Does extracted DNA degrade after a certain time period?

For direct use as template in PCR runs. Chelex 100 5-10% w/v extraction. Without listing the whole protocol, in the end the supernate is decanted off and then stored at 4°C. I was under the impression ...
7
votes
2answers
127 views

Why is there no way to remove an immune response?

We've known for a long time now how to "add a new entry to the database," as it were, of immune responses. It's called vaccination, and it's been one of the greatest success stories in the history of ...
6
votes
2answers
241 views

Why sleep? No, actually, why wake?

I was just reading the sleep threads, and I wondered, why is the body so constructed so that sleep is necessary? (Is it just a design error?) But then, how do things come to be awake at all? How did ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Why do DNA and RNA have the functions they have?

I know that there are two most important directions of genetic information transfer in living organisms: DNA->DNA and DNA->RNA. The first is replication, and the second is transcription. I wonder if ...
4
votes
1answer
74 views

What effects does being cryogenically frozen have on a person's body? [closed]

I'm wondering what effects are known to happen to a person's cells when a person is cryogenically frozen, especially those that need to be overcome in order to "bring them back to life." From a ...
4
votes
1answer
451 views

Is there any size limit to the amount of information a human (or other) brain can hold

Im not sure how this would ever be tested but is there a limit to how much the brain can 'hold' before it reaches capacity ? I guess this could also be interpreted in terms of memory, as how well ...
4
votes
3answers
997 views

Chromosome 2 fusion?

I read this article by Jeffrey Tomkins and Jerry Bergman claiming to debunk chromosome 2 fusion. Is there anything wrong with these conclusions? " 1.The reputed fusion site is located in a ...
3
votes
1answer
113 views

Elevated position effect on recovery times from upper respiratory infections at rest?

In nursing school, they advice for people with upper respiratory infections to be in a slightly elevated position at the head region when sleeping. My intuition of the reason is that the lymphatic ...
3
votes
1answer
222 views

Ventral stream pathway and architecture proposed by Poggio's group

Please can you give me a very brief explanation about all functions in the ventral stream architecture summarized in this figure: This figure is from Serre et al.'s A quantitative theory of ...
3
votes
2answers
677 views

What are gram negative and positive bacteria?

I've just finished a course of double antibiotics for Helicobacter pylori in my stomach. I looked up H. pylori and found that it was a gram-negative bacterium. I looked up gram-negative and didn't ...
20
votes
2answers
738 views

Why is rabies incurable?

I'm still not sure about the mechanics that lead to rabies being incurable. I know that it can be treated before any symptoms show up, but why is it that once symptoms show the person is a dead man ...
17
votes
2answers
395 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 ...
17
votes
1answer
226 views

Are there dextral/sinistral higher animals?

For example, almost every dog I've met in my life (more than 20 subjects) uses their right paw touching one while asking for attention. Can it be used as a criterion for calling them dextral? If not, ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

How many organisms have ever lived on Earth?

I've looked for some information on this, but couldn't find anything useful. Has there been any noteworthy attempt to estimate the sum amount of individuals of all species that have ever lived on ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Can two humans with 44 chromosomes produce viable offspring?

It is known that there are very few individuals having 44 chromosomes, not the usual 46 chromosomes. One example is a male in China: the first article, the second article. The other is a female in ...
14
votes
2answers
817 views

How Do Galls Form?

I am curious how Gall Wasps, bacteria and other organisms induce galls to form. Specifically, what chemicals induce gall formation?
13
votes
2answers
606 views

Are there neurons that can sense light shining in your ears?

I know someone who bought earphones that shine light in you ears. According to what he was told, there are neurons that sense light and then make you feel wide awake when activated, which seemed like ...
13
votes
4answers
66k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
223 views

How fast can a human run?

I'm a runner (cross country) and I'm always amazed at how fast Olympic sprinters are. There's a lot of hype about those in the 100-meter dash being the fastest in the world, and we're constantly ...
11
votes
2answers
5k views

Why is a lack of oxygen fatal to cells?

In animals temporary anaerobic respiration leads to the breakdown of the pyruvate formed by glycolysis into lactate. The buildup of lactate in the bloodstream is accompanied by a large number of ...

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