16
votes
2answers
3k views

Is there an advantage to linear chromosomes?

The DNA copying enzymes have a hard time working to the end of a chromosome. For circular chromosomes this is not a problem, since there is not a sharp 'end'. However, for a linear chromosome, without ...
13
votes
2answers
343 views

Have we ever observed two drosophila lineages that evolved reproductive isolation in labs?

Background The standard definition of species refers to the concept of reproductive isolation. If two lineages are found to be reproductively isolated, then we consider these two lineages to belong ...
12
votes
4answers
8k views

What nutrients can humans absorb in the mouth?

For instance, I realise being able to absorb simple sugars in the mouth is pivotal in the rapid action of oral glucose gel. Thus I was wondering what nutrients in general can be absorbed directly ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

How is eye color in humans inherited?

In high school we studied the inheritance of eye color, as it was explained to us in the most simple way: blue eye color is a recessive, monogenic, autosomal trait. Now I know that it is a bit more ...
9
votes
3answers
7k views

Does our DNA change during our lives?

As far as I know, DNA is the construction protocol of all organisms on Earth. Does it change when influenced by time and environment (physical laws)? As parents with schizophrenia are more likely to ...
9
votes
1answer
762 views

Could humans and chimpanzees hybridize?

In some cases two species can hybridize. For example, Tigers and lions can hybridize to produce "Ligers". Would it also be possible for humans and chimpanzees (or any other species) to hybridize ? ...
9
votes
2answers
6k views

Why does human facial and head hair continue to grow?

Many people can grow extremely long head hair and facial hair. Are there evolutionary theories as to why this is the case? It seems like having long hair could be a disadvantage, and extremely long ...
8
votes
2answers
250 views

Can forensic DNA analysis be used to generate a visual approximation of a suspect?

In light of the current US supreme court case, I'm curious if enough information can be teased out of a DNA sample to get a "reasonable" approximation of the suspect (never mind the legality). I ...
8
votes
1answer
213 views

Why is maintaining a circadian rhythm important?

What are the real consequences of never maintaining a circadian rhythm? How is circadian rhythm important for health and function? Where did it arise in evolution?
7
votes
2answers
129 views

Are unilaterally deaf people able to determine where sound comes from?

My question is on people deafened in one ear, but normal hearing in the other. Time and level differences between the two ears are only part of how the human body can localize the source of the ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

What chemicals and structures control the *direction* of plant growth in leaves, stems and roots?

If you want a specific plant, let's say the snap peas I am growing that I bought at Agway. I noticed that they grow towards the light source through the nearby window. Also I think roots work the same ...
7
votes
2answers
178 views

HIV Rapid Tests

The hiv antigens that are used in the oral rapid tests, are they infectious? The tests do not contain any actual virus but I am curious if the antigens themselves could somehow create the virus on ...
7
votes
2answers
553 views

How do we know the brain flips images projected on the retina back around?

Why do we turn images upside down again rather than dealing with them directly, still vertically rotated after passing through our lens? I don't see how that would cause any problems, and how we'd ...
5
votes
1answer
529 views

What causes humans to be sleepy?

Is there a hormone or group of hormones that regulates when we feel sleepy late at night, or in the morning? Or is sleepiness caused by some other non-hormonal mechanism? (e.g. pure psychological, ...
4
votes
2answers
172 views

What is the state-of-the-art algorithm for multiple sequence alignment?

Which algorithm or algorithms are considered the standard or state-of-the-art for multiple sequence alignment? How big is the need for better algorithms? How many sequences need to be alignment in a ...
4
votes
1answer
259 views

Do any birds beside the family Columbidae (or any reptile or mammal) feed their young “Crop Milk”

Birds from the family Columbidae (e.g., doves and pigeons) produce a fatty, milk-like substance in their crop. The secretion is often referred to as "crop milk." They feed crop milk to their young ...
3
votes
1answer
71 views

Dehydration by a tea, coffee, beer etc

For the long time I am trying to find out if the following is truth: They say that some beverages dehydrates. I heard that about tea (sometimes green, sometimes black, sometimes both), coffee, beer ...
3
votes
2answers
606 views

Is there a difference between polarity and hydrophobicity?

From literature the two terms seem to be interchangeable when discussing protein domains and motifs. But biochemically, what are the specific differences between these two terms? For example what is ...
3
votes
2answers
239 views

Short-term Lamarckism in asexual single cell organisms

I was reading through the Karr et al. (2012) whole-cell computational model. One of the things they did was to induce single-gene disruptions in their model. They observed several to be fatal, but: ...
2
votes
1answer
161 views

What insect is this..?

Can anyone tell me what kind of insect (if it is one) is this...!! Or is it the pupa of some insect? Well I don't think that the whole big thing is the insect itself, it appears to be just a kind of ...
2
votes
1answer
90 views

Do plant-plant interactions inhibit growth?

Plants produce lots of compounds that inhibit (kill or irritate) microorganisms and insects. They have defenses against plant viruses and infections. What kinds of compounds or hormones to plants ...
1
vote
1answer
75 views

Influence of temperature on protein binding and decay rates

For computer modeling purposes, I am looking for some referenced quantitative measurements of the effect(s) of temperature on the dynamic of biochemical reactions. Question In particular, my ...
61
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 ...
11
votes
3answers
925 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 ...
46
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
46
votes
4answers
29k 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 ...
30
votes
4answers
15k 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 ...
27
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
28
votes
1answer
19k views

How does laughing gas (N₂O) work?

Laughing gas (N2O), well, makes people laugh. How does just a gas make us do that, there has to be some hormones at work... So, I wanted to know how this works? What is the mechanism?
4
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
33
votes
4answers
81k 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
833 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
425 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
6k 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
966 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
4k 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
639 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
11k 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
2k 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
181 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
231 views

What causes Paresthesia (Pins and Needles) at a cellular level?

I've looked it up in plenty of places like the Wikipedia page and such, and it is clear that the most common cause of Paresthesia is either a fair amount of pressure on a specific patch of skin ...
7
votes
2answers
442 views

Do immortal organisms exist?

Do organisms exist that are able to live indefinitely if they are not killed by external factors? Under external factors I would consider things like predators and natural disaster but not illness by ...
15
votes
3answers
748 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
33k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
451 views

Why does strenous exercise cause vision of “lights”?

I had a hard climb a week ago. I got so tired then any time I closed my eyes I saw these lights inside my head. I see these lights almost every time that I run fast or some thing like that. What are ...
9
votes
3answers
5k 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 ? ...

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