13
votes
1answer
399 views

Why is yawning contagious?

Why does yawning seems to be contagious? Is this similar to laughter being contagious or does it has a different reason?
13
votes
4answers
721 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
11k views

What is the difference between HPLC and FPLC and why is FPLC preferable for protein purification?

I've used HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) before (once, so I'm barely even qualified to know what it stands for) so I was surprised when my labmate told me she would be using an ...
13
votes
1answer
807 views

What is the smallest number of amino acids required for life?

Is there any hypothesis on the minimum number of amino acids required for life?
13
votes
1answer
187 views

What is the prehistory of amino acids in cells?

As a followup to Why 20 amino acids instead of 64? and What is the smallest number of amino acids required for life?, I am trying to understand the prehistory of amino acids in cells. All living ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

Why do we grow so much hair on our heads compared to our bodies?

I've been wondering about head hair, facial hair in particular. Human males can grow very extensive beards should they choose to not shave - however you do not really see this in our chimpanzee ...
13
votes
3answers
4k views

Why do cockroaches flip over when they die?

This question has always mystified me since young. For beetles, I can reason that they flip over because they have a higher centre of gravity causing them to be in unstable equilibrium when they tuck ...
13
votes
1answer
132 views

Has the human 7-day week had any impact on the evolution of species?

Most (if not all) industrialized countries follow a 7-day work week now, such that we are bound to follow a certain weekly trend in matters such as pollution generation, where to go (e.g. stay in town ...
13
votes
1answer
262 views

Fibonacci sequence in nature, truth or just wishful thinking?

I'm reading a bit on the Fibonacci sequence in nature, be it the golden ratio or the golden spiral forming over and over again in biological structures, and then I came across this online article by ...
13
votes
1answer
165 views

How straightforward is in vitro compartmentalization?

in vitro compartmentalization (IVC) is one of those technologies that everyone knows about, talks about, but never actual does due to the rather technical difficulties in setting the system up. I was ...
13
votes
1answer
254 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
9answers
6k views

Why have humans evolved much more quickly than other animals?

Humans have, in a relatively short amount of time, evolved from apes on the African plains to upright brainiacs with nukes, computers, and space travel. Meanwhile, a lion is still a lion and a ...
12
votes
10answers
768 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
6answers
1k views

Why isn't a virus “alive”?

The recent news about a new supermassive virus being discovered got me thinking. What biological differences between viruses and cellular organisms have made viruses be deemed non-living?
12
votes
5answers
302 views

Is it the case that all changes in phenotype during life are not inheritable?

This came up in a talk with a friend. I wanted to clear this doubt. I've read about it before and did again after her remark (my thoughts didn't change: her concept is Lamarck's, not Darwin's), but ...
12
votes
5answers
3k views

Can any protein be phosphorylated?

I am working with an Arabidopsis mutant with an F-box protein knocked out. It has been shown that F-box proteins targets must first be phosphorylated (Skowrya et al., 1997). I have heard of ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

How does the human body metabolize gasoline?

A Chinese man has been drinking gasoline to relieve his pain for 25 years. How does the human body metabolize gasoline? Also, what are the side-affects to gasoline?
12
votes
4answers
261 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Do any organisms recycle their own waste internally?

I thought of this question yesterday and it turns out it's surprisingly hard to Google.
12
votes
4answers
191 views

Are there any examples of proteins with no or minimal sequence identity, but highly similar structure?

What are they, and do they share a common ancestor? How far back in evolutionary time must we go to find them? If none are known, what computational tools might be used to search for such examples?
12
votes
3answers
208 views

When are population dynamics models useful?

When are population dynamics models useful? There seems to have been a lot of research about it, but how does it help? If I need data about how a population will evolve under what conditions, I need ...
12
votes
2answers
269 views

Why was it so hard to decode the corn genome?

My teachers growing up told me it was impossible to decode the maize genome. But yet its been done. Why was decoding the genome so significant, and what made it so difficult?
12
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 ...
12
votes
3answers
505 views

Why are there no organisms with metal body parts, like weapons, bones, and armour? (Or are there?)

Reading this question, Why are there no wheeled animals?, I wondered why no organisms seem to make use of the tensile and other strengths of metal, as we do in metal tools and constructions. I am ...
12
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

Why do people have antibodies against other blood types?

The ABO blood type divides each blood type according to whether they have the "A" and "B" antigen(s) (AB has both, O has none). People also have antibodies against the antigens they don't have (AB has ...
12
votes
4answers
358 views

Why did high A+T content create problems for the Plasmodium falciparum genome project?

The main paper for the Plasmodium palciparum genome project (Gardner et al., 2002) repeatedly mentioned that the unusually high A+T content (~80%) of the genome caused problems. For example they imply ...
12
votes
4answers
381 views

Questions to ask to a panel of people that will be sequenced

Some genes have been shown to be associated with left-handedness. Working with some clinicians, I've recommend them to ask their patients (whose genome will be sequenced) if they are "right or ...
12
votes
2answers
170 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

Do men have significant hormonal cycles?

I know there's a similar question here. But that discussion dissolved into lunar cycle and a correlation with it. I want to find more towards the original question of is there a periodic hormone ...
12
votes
2answers
363 views

Is the 'fluttering feeling' when under stress neurological or physical?

I'm sure that everyone is familiar with the sensation commonly known as "butterflies in the stomach". It is commonly experienced during periods of anxiety or stress (e.g. before high stakes job ...
12
votes
2answers
340 views

Are there any plants that fix their own nitrogen?

I know that most nitrogen is fixed through industrial processes and bacterial symbiotic relationships. However, are there any plants that can fix their own atmospheric nitrogen?
12
votes
2answers
129 views

Relationship between our microbiome and personalized nutrition

Recently, it has been asked whether there are 'metabolic types' between humans that can benefit from a sort of personalized nutrition. One answer suggested that one discerning factor could be the ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does Penicillin only affect bacterial cell walls

I was quite fascinated by the feature Should Science Pull the Trigger on Antiviral Drugs—That Can Blast the Common Cold? in this month's Wired magazine. They explain that Penicillin is effective at ...
12
votes
3answers
648 views

Why do restriction enzymes tend to have an even number of bases in their recognition site?

When reading my textbook I noticed that in all examples but one from eight the recognition site was an even number of bases. I wondered if this was just a co-incidence, so I took the data from this ...
12
votes
2answers
1k 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 ?
12
votes
1answer
199 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
622 views

What did Richard Feynman contribute to molecular biology?

Some time ago, I read James Gleick's "Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman", a wonderful biography of Feynman and, by extension, most of modern physics. In this book, the author mentions ...
12
votes
2answers
133 views

How to decide which is the correct scientific name for a particular species

To start with, I am not a person having sound knowledge in biology. When I started my search for phyto-chemicals in a particular family in the plant kingdom, I got confused. The scientific papers use ...
12
votes
2answers
415 views

Which is more important for protein expression mRNA structure or codon optimization?

The field seems extremely divided on the debate. On one hand, artificial experiments have suggested that synonymous mutations don't correlate with gene expression but rather, the mRNA 5' structure is ...
12
votes
2answers
287 views

Why are there N's after Sanger sequencing?

After sending a DNA sample for sequencing, the resulting sequence had N's in the beginning and end of the sequence. I know the N's mean that the computer can't tell what the base pair is, but why is ...
12
votes
2answers
584 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
287 views

Quantum mechanics in biology

There is a growing interest in the applications of non-equilibrium quantum dynamics to describe biological processes (I'm not talking here about Penrose's old theories, but new stuff -- quantum ...
12
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does scar tissue change color?

I was wondering why, when you are cold, scar tissue turns bluish or purple while original skin stays the same color. The only thing I can think of, is that maybe scar tissue gets less circulation ...
12
votes
2answers
179 views

Can a color-deficient person be made to visualize the missing colors?

Hope this is within the scope of this site. Color-deficient persons lack the cells in their retina needed for differentiating some (or all) colors. However, the part of the brain that actually ...
12
votes
2answers
372 views

What is the morphological difference between Leydig cell in human and pig?

The pig is only an example, just an animal. Leydig cells have protein inclusions (Reinke crystals) that are mostly made of crystallised lipofuscin. They are secretory inclusions i.e. cells formed in ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

How many people are required to maintain genetic diversity?

Imagine humans were to colonize a distant planet and it was a single one-way trip. How many people would they need to bring? Obviously 2 is the minimum, but that would result in a lot of inbreeding. ...
12
votes
1answer
485 views

How many people's DNA were involved in the compilation of the reference human genome?

I know that the reference human genome is complied from DNA portions from different people, most of whom were European. Do you know how many of them were involved? Do you know which ones were ...
12
votes
1answer
827 views

Why do neurons die so quickly (relative to other cells) when deprived of oxygen?

This question could be considered a follow-up question to Why is a lack of oxygen fatal to cells?, although the top answer there does not address why damage starts to pop in. The answer says this: ...
12
votes
3answers
7k views

How many agarose gel bands are typical for circularised DNA

I am aware that circular DNA can be both relaxed and super coiled. However when running an agarose gel of the circular plasmid along with singly digested plasmid with BamHI and HindIII, I see 1 band ...

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