25
votes
1answer
871 views

How did viruses come to be?

My question is out of curiosity and got me thinking. How did viruses with the head, tail and tail fibres actually evolve? These viruses look more like machines than biological entities. Are there any ...
25
votes
1answer
938 views

Extremely rare occurence of Heart cancer?

The occurrence of Heart cancer (similar, but not the same as Rhabdomyosarcoma) is extremely rare, about 1 per year according to MayoClinic. The reason for this rarity is explained to be the post-...
24
votes
4answers
17k views

How many genes do we share with our mother?

Somewhere I have read we share more than 99% of our genes with every other other person and 98% of our genes with chimpanzees. What does this mean? Don't we share 50% of our genes with our mother and ...
24
votes
5answers
2k views

Why are there species instead of a continuum of various animals?

As I understand it, various animal traits have to evolve gradually, but what happens to the species that are "neither here nor there"? To put it differently, if a species evolved from another, it did ...
24
votes
3answers
2k views

Hot water and bacteria

I know that it is common to say, "use hot water when washing your hands" or when you've got a cut, "wash your hands with warm water," etc. I was wondering, why is this the case? Since bacteria grow in ...
24
votes
2answers
4k views

Why does an electrical shock freeze up muscles?

Why is it when someone comes into contact with an electrical supply that their body freezes up and is unable to move away from the electrical source? Can someone explain this through a physiological ...
24
votes
4answers
2k views

How and where, in the human brain, are memories stored?

Background I am a computer programmer who is fascinated by artificial intelligence and artificial neural networks, and I am becoming more curious about how biological neural networks work. Context &...
24
votes
3answers
5k views

Did the Zika virus mutate?

The Zika virus was already present and known to the world (mostly in Southeast Asia) before the current outbreak. Why has the virus caused such an extreme outbreak? Has it mutated from its ...
24
votes
3answers
3k views

What limits our healing speed?

Our bodies can repair quite a number of injuries very well. However, it takes time. For larger wounds, complete recovery can last many weeks. Why is this time so long, what is the most important ...
24
votes
3answers
67k views

What is the difference between orthologs, paralogs and homologs?

These three terms are often misused in the literature. Many researchers seem to treat them as synonyms. So, what is the definition of each of these terms and how do they differ from one another?
24
votes
3answers
2k views

Is it necessary to conduct a power analysis before beginning an experiment?

I know that power analysis is the statistically valid way to ensure you use the correct numer of samples or repeats in an experiment. But I have never seen any biologist actually conduct a power ...
24
votes
4answers
738 views

How are the boundaries of a gene determined?

What statistical processes and methods are used by geneticists/molecular biologists to know where one gene starts and one ends?
24
votes
3answers
4k views

Is “computational biology” different from “bioinformatics”?

Are "computational biology" and "bioinformatics" simply different terms for the same thing or is there a real difference?
24
votes
3answers
62k views

Why do mammalian red blood cells lack a nucleus?

How did the red blood cell in humans get to lose its nucleus (and other organelles)? Does the bone marrow just not put the nucleus in, or is it stripped out at some stage in the construction of the ...
24
votes
1answer
10k views

Why is the Krebs cycle considered a part of aerobic metabolism if molecular oxygen is not involved in any of the reactions in the cycle

Why is the Krebs cycle considered a part of aerobic metabolism if molecular oxygen is not involved in any of the reactions in the cycle? I originally thought that Krebs cycle was aerobic metabolism ...
24
votes
2answers
680 views

Smallest viable reproducing population

What is the smallest viable reproducing population, such as in a human population. By viable I mean a population which keeps genetic defects low (enough). A very strongly related question: what is ...
24
votes
2answers
13k views

What causes fingerprints to form and why is the pattern formed unique?

I've found research that suggests that the reason we develop fingerprints is because they aid us with feeling surfaces (Scheibert, et al. 2008) and not to increase friction and help with the gripping ...
23
votes
3answers
3k views

Which organism has the smallest genome length?

Which animal/plant/anything has smallest length genome?
23
votes
5answers
5k views

Why do living fossils like crocodiles remain so constant and not evolve? [duplicate]

Crocodiles have supposedly remained unchanged for millions of years, and several other species are considered as "living fossils". How do such species remain so constant over time given that they will ...
23
votes
2answers
5k views

Is it possible that by mutation a human could see infrared or other 'colours'?

Incoming light reacts with the several types of cone cells in the eye. In humans, there are three types of cones sensitive to three different spectra, resulting in trichromatic color vision. Each ...
23
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
23
votes
5answers
14k 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 ...
23
votes
1answer
8k views

Why do adults lose hearing at high frequencies?

Children and teens can hear high pitched sounds that adults can't hear anymore. Why do adults lose high-frequency hearing?
23
votes
3answers
4k views

Do all organisms have to die?

I understand (a little) that there are biological clocks and reason that after a certain amount of time organisms die. I'm wondering if that is something inherent in our DNA or in biology/chemistry in ...
23
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is menstruation in wild animals not a disadvantage to organismal survival?

When I watch wilderness specials for more than a few minutes, I notice a familiar pattern: predators are depicted as being alerted by the scent of blood. Wounded animals seem to make the best prey and ...
23
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
23
votes
1answer
765 views

How, on a physical level, does ATP confer energy?

When ATP is used as the energy currency to make, say, reaction X + Y → Z happen, is what happens on a physical level down at the molecular scale that during the reaction ATP + H2O → ADP + Pi  &...
23
votes
1answer
479 views

Phagemid display

If I'm using a bacteriophage for phage display and I'm trying to avoid avidity effects by using a helper phage what would be the best way to maintain a large library size while keeping everything ...
22
votes
7answers
6k views

Why can't we see in low light if staring long enough?

For me it seems reasonable that if I kept my gaze on a fixed point in a room with low light, a progressively brighter and better picture would appear before my eyes, just like a camera can see in the ...
22
votes
5answers
13k views

Do humans have enough biological differences to be grouped into races or subspecies?

After my online research on the subject, I learnt that, biologically speaking, many scientists believe that there is no such thing as a race. Homo sapiens as a species is only 200,000 years old, which ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is it advised that infants are fed mother's milk?

I have heard that mother's milk is preferred over other baby foods, because it contains immunoglobulines (secretory IgA), and other essential nutrients. But why is mother's milk so special? Any ...
22
votes
5answers
4k views

Why are there no known animals with an odd number of legs?

In my 6th grade science book it is said that there are no three legged animals, and that no animal with an odd number of limbs exists. I checked Wikipedia and could confirm this: There are no ...
22
votes
3answers
4k 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 ?
22
votes
4answers
3k views

How to get rid of mosquitoes in a small lake

I own a small lake. Give or take it is about 50 meters wide and 100 meters long (or 160 feet wide, 320 feet long), with a max depth of around 2 meters / 6.5 feet. One third of the lake is surrounded ...
22
votes
1answer
9k views

How long can an octopus survive out of the water?

I saw videos of octopuses crawling on the ground and I was wondering how long an octopus can survive when out of the water? Does it depend on either its size (i.e., does a big octopus from deep sea ...
22
votes
3answers
440 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.
22
votes
1answer
3k views

Why do mints make your mouth feel cold?

Why do mints make your mouth feel cold? And specifically, why does your mouth feel so cold if you eat a few mints and then drink a glass of cold water afterwards?
22
votes
3answers
382 views

How crowded is the bacterial cell?

I was wondering what is the protein concentration in an E. coli cell. When studying enzyme kinetics and activity in vitro, I would argue that the substrate and enzyme concentrations resemble those in ...
22
votes
4answers
3k views

Why do we need red blood cells?

From what I know, the main function of red blood cells is hemoglobin transport. So, why do we need cells packed with hemoglobin: why can't it travel freely in the bloodstream? My own thoughts were: ...
22
votes
4answers
7k views

Why are not all species hermaphrodites?

If a hermaphrodite animal (like slug, snail, etc) finds a partner they can mate immediately. If another animal with "normal" reproduction (lets say a mouse) finds a partner they can only mate if they ...
22
votes
1answer
5k views

Why do stars disappear when I look at them?

I've noticed that when I'm out at night stars seem to vanish when I focus on them. I assume the reason is physiological and not astronomic. Why does this happen? I would expect that things would be ...
21
votes
4answers
2k views

How to understand influenza strain designations?

What do the strain designations for flu mean? For example avian flu is classified as H5N1, what do the letters H, ...
21
votes
6answers
1k views

How is evolution possible in contemporary humans?

I would like to know if evolution is continuing to happen in modern humans, assuming things like existence of the nuclear family structure, fidelity to one partner, etc. It seems to me the answer ...
21
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

120-year-old gene regulation problem independently solved by a computer. How?

My Background: I'm a mathematics graduate student with a physics background. I have a very little biology knowledge and a little knowledge of machine learning and statistics. Topic: I recently ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

Can rats pass on memories of a maze to their offspring?

A friend of mine told me once about a documentary movie he saw some years ago. On this movie he saw scientists talking about particular experiment. This experiment involved rats and probably ...
21
votes
2answers
374 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 ...
21
votes
1answer
2k views

Is kissing a natural human activity?

The word natural here is meant in contrast to it being a sociological construct. Is kissing in all its forms something natural for humans? Is it instinctively erotic? Or is it just a conventional ...
21
votes
2answers
25k views

What is the difference between local and global sequence alignments?

There are a bunch of different alignment tools out there, and I don't want to get bogged down in the maths behind them as this not only between softwares, but varies from software version to version. ...
21
votes
1answer
678 views

Are lymphocyte sizes clustered in two groups?

Tortora writes in Principles of Anatomy and Physiology: Lymphocytes may be as small as 6–9 μm in diameter or as large as 10–14 μm in diameter. Those ranges are quite close to each others. Should ...

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