18
votes
4answers
3k views

Why are there exactly four nucleobases in DNA?

Does someone know why DNA is composed of four nucleobases? In particular, is there an explanation for the number? Why four and not two, or eight?
18
votes
2answers
614 views

How is menstruation not suicide in the wild?

Watch any wilderness special for more than a few minutes, and you'll notice a familiar pattern: when a predator catches the scent of blood on the wind, the hunt is on. Wounded animals make the best ...
18
votes
1answer
567 views

What is the lowest pressure at which plants can survive?

What is the lowest pressure at which plants can survive? How the plants behave in a Martian-type atmosphere? Is there any plant that can survive such atmosphere? Can a lichen grow at Martian ...
18
votes
1answer
241 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, ...
18
votes
1answer
885 views

ATP cost for gene expression

How would you estimate the number of ATPs required to transcribe, export and translate a single eukariotic protein?
18
votes
1answer
945 views

Can beavers control the direction a tree falls?

We humans can easily control the direction a tree falls by making a number of strategic cuts, essentially creating a hinge: This prevents trees from falling on equipment and people and sets them up ...
18
votes
3answers
306 views

What are the effects of long-term liquid breathing?

I just saw a recent Physics question that mentioned liquid breathing (which I had never heard of before) and I started to wonder about its long-term effects. Let's imagine a person underwent liquid ...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

How long can I store extracted RNA?

If I extract RNA from a (leaf tissue) sample using a one-step phenol:chloroform extraction, how long can those samples be stored at -80°C? And how many times can I defrost and refreeze them before ...
18
votes
1answer
488 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
5k views

Are mitochondria dead?

In the video "What is Life? Is Death Real?", the subject of mitochondria is raised at 2:58. At 3:12, the narrator says "[mitochondria] are not alive any more: they are dead." What currents of thought ...
17
votes
2answers
414 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
3answers
551 views

Is exon order always preserved in splicing?

Are there any cases in which the splicing machinery constructs an mRNA in which the exons are not in the 5' -> 3' genomic order? I'm interested any such cases, whether they involve constitutive or ...
17
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

Why does the face turn pale in dangerous situations?

I know what the effects are of a dangerous situation on the brain, i.e., an activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis which eventually results in an increased heart rate and elevated ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Is any known plant magnetic?

Is there a plant (not a microscopic type but one that is visible to the naked eye) that has so much iron (or magnetite), cobalt, or nickel in its body that it can attract a magnet? In this case ...
17
votes
3answers
26k views

Why can white hairs get dark again?

I have learned (probably in high school?) that hairs turning white is caused by the part of the folicle which produces the pigment dying and being replaced by an air bubble. This sounds very ...
17
votes
5answers
5k 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 ...
17
votes
1answer
2k views

Do insects' muscles become stronger with exercise?

I am curious to know if insect muscles become stronger with exercise, because I have seen many insects get tired out, but I have never seen one get stronger. They always seem to become permanently ...
17
votes
3answers
220 views

What is the optimal frame size for protein secondary structure prediction methods?

The whole question is What is the optimal frame size for the second and third generation protein secondary structure prediction methods? Justify your answer. I remember it has something to do ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is 'Grudger' an evolutionary stable strategy?

I am currently reading 'The Selfish Gene' by Richard Dawkins, which I am sure many here have read. The topic are evolutionary stable strategies (ESS) regarding cooperation. I apologise for the long ...
17
votes
2answers
19k views

Are mosquitoes repelled by high frequency sound?

I am totally confused whether ask this question to physics or biology stackexchange. I downloaded a mobile application which claims to repel mosquitoes. This application basically produces sound from ...
17
votes
1answer
711 views

Can siRNA induce DNA methylation in mammalian cells?

Some years ago Hiroaki Kawasaki and Kazunari Taira published an article called "Induction of DNA methylation and gene silencing by short interfering RNAs in human cells" in Nature: In plants, ...
17
votes
3answers
274 views

What is the reason behind choosing the reporter gene when experimenting on your gene of interest?

I noticed within example experiments in class that different reporter genes are chosen to be inserted near your gene of interest to prove whether or not the gene is being expressed. For example, you ...
17
votes
1answer
324 views

How does Sodium Valproate cause neural plasticity

I have been reading a fascinating paper: Valproate reopens critical-period learning of absolute pitch 18 individuals were given Sodium Valproate (VPA) for a fortnight during which they trained on a ...
16
votes
6answers
2k views

Human evolution: Where *exactly* did the first human come from, whose parents were not?

Layman here. So I have never really quite understood this facet of human evolution, (or any other for that matter), in that, I understand the evolutionary process, but I get lost on the 'border' ...
16
votes
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
votes
2answers
9k views

How do the brain and nerves create electrical pulses?

I have heard that information is sent between the brain and peripheral nerves via electrical pulses or signals, but I don't understand how they create them in the first place.
16
votes
9answers
5k views

Why didn't the polar bear change its color from white to black during evolution to absorb heat?

Polar bears are white in color and white color is not a good absorbant of heat. Why then didn't they evolve a black color to absorb more heat?
16
votes
5answers
1k views

Are there any examples of sudden leaps in evolution?

As far as I understand, various abilities like flying, sight, hearing etc. were caused by slow evolution, where those with a greater ability to to these things had better chance of survival. (If this ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

Where’s the flaw in my proposed TB Treatment?

Ten years ago, I emailed a prominent lung specialist with my suggestion for a treatment for Tuberculosis. His lack of response led me to believe that the idea had no merit whatsoever – but I had no ...
16
votes
3answers
933 views

Are there cats with black skin?

Some mammals can have a black, pink or spotted skin, depending on race - see for example humans or pigs. But I recently learned that this is not the case with mice. Even black furred mice have pink ...
16
votes
2answers
850 views

Do plant-animal cross races exist?

Plants and animals have the following distinct properties: Plants live from solar energy by photosynthesis, they use solar energy to make sugar and oxygen out of carbon dioxide, which gives them ...
16
votes
2answers
918 views

How do plant galls form?

I am curious how Gall Wasps, bacteria and other organisms induce galls to form. Specifically, what chemicals induce gall formation?
16
votes
4answers
2k views

Could we transmit smells electronically?

We can encode sound and images in radio waves and send them, but presumably there's some physiological reason that we can't easily make a picture or video of a smell. Could we realistically break ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

Are humans the only animal that requires “clean water”?

I've seen a number of animals - dogs, cats, squirrels, ducks and geese, etc drink from puddles, some of them were muddy, others had green flora growing under water. Same goes for lakes and rivers. A ...
16
votes
1answer
744 views

Do large animals often evolve into smaller animals?

There are several examples where the largest animals were killed off preferentially due to a major ecological shift: The KT extinction event The Holocene extinction, as well as the major megafauna ...
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 ...
16
votes
2answers
4k views

How many humans have been in my lineage? Is it almost the same for every human currently living?

If I were to count my father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, and so on up till, say chimps, or the most common ancestor, or whatever that suits the more accurate answer, how many humans would ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Do probiotics survive digestion?

Pretty much this. I've been wondering if any of the yogourt and other "health" foods containing living probiotic cultures survive digestion to populate our intestines? If so, is there peer-reviewed ...
16
votes
2answers
258 views

Why is there now only one Salmonella species?

Once upon a time, I chanced upon an old microbiology book that detailed the rather colorful world of enterobacteria. Salmonella in particular stood out, as it seemed there were a lot of species: typhi ...
16
votes
4answers
3k views

Why is the Hydra Biologically Immortal?

I have heard that the Hydra organism is biologically immortal (later I found that there are more immortal organisms). Now I know that its immortality is related to its telomerase. The thing is that we ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

What is this droplet of liquid that comes out of a mosquito?

I have been looking at pictures of different species of mosquito and several times I came across pictures where the mosquito seems to be secreting some kind of fluid. In the pictures one can clearly ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

Why does the cold make us sick?

From the moment we learn to communicate, we always get told, whether by our parents, or our teachers, or by anyone else, to avoid the cold, or to put a jacket on to avoid catching a cold, to dry our ...
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 ...
16
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
9k views

Origin, or source, of rhesus negative in human blood

This is my first post here, so please be gentle. I recently learned that I have Rh- blood (I'm A-), and was idly looking into blood types on Wikipedia. I was surprised to find that relatively few ...
16
votes
1answer
136 views

What is the mechanism responsible for the periodicity of hiccups?

Hiccups (singultus) are caused by involuntary spasm of the intercostal muscles and diaphragm, producing a sudden inspiration with associated glottic closure. It seems the neurobiology of the reflex ...
16
votes
1answer
463 views

Do marine deep sea life forms exhibit circadian rhythms? If so, what entrains them?

I've been reading a lot about circadian rhythms, when suddenly this question popped into my head: do circadian rhythms exist for deep sea organisms (3000 ft / 1000 meters+)? For land mammals, the ...
15
votes
1answer
6k views

Why doesn't water enter my body through my anus or genitals when swimming?

So when we swim, we can make water not enter through our nose and mouth, simply by holding our breath. However, the mouth and the nose aren't the only cavities. What about the anus and the genitals? ...
15
votes
6answers
1k views

Could Junk DNA be used as a Turing Machine by nature?

In what ways has DNA been studied to see if there a "programmable" aspect to it? Has nature produced anything resembling a Turing machine within the cell, perhaps using the "junk DNA" as its code? I ...

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