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 ?
11
votes
1answer
431 views
+500

What light intensity starts melatonin release in humans?

I'm interested in whether any studies have determined the intensity of light at eye level that starts melatonin release in humans. I know that: melatonin release is suppressed by blue light with ...
11
votes
1answer
436 views

How do CpG islands remain unmethylated?

In most of the genome CpG sites are pretty much always methylated, but CpG islands are instead often unmethylated. This has been linked to the fact that they often are associated to transcripted ...
10
votes
2answers
305 views

Why Do Most Humans & Cats Have Blue/Bluish Eyes At Birth?

I've read that the eye color at birth for most humans and for cats may not always be the the true genetic color at first. This is due to the lack of melanin in the iris. This makes sense as there is ...
9
votes
1answer
226 views

Did the eugenics program in Nazi Germany have a measurable effect? [closed]

Did the killing or sterilisation of people considered as living a "life unworthy of life" in Nazi Germany have any measurable effect on the "average health" of Germany? Is there any statistical ...
9
votes
2answers
127 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, ...
9
votes
2answers
298 views

How is human biological clock modelled in modern science?

Im an engineer by education and i program a lot, so the question sounds weird to people from other disciplines. Im trying to better understand the human biological clock. Yet i do not really know ...
8
votes
1answer
128 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
143 views

Genetic Drift: Models, assumptions and empirical observations

There two main mathematical models to describe the process of genetic drift are Moran model and Wright-Fisher model. My questions concern the assumptions of these models, the existence of other ...
8
votes
2answers
139 views

Why is venom more common in fish and snakes than other vertebrates?

Reading this question, I wondered why is it that we associate vertebrate venoms so often with snakes and fish, and more rarely with lizards, amphibians, mammals, and birds (apparently never, in ...
8
votes
2answers
468 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
55 views

Downloadable worldwide database of disease statistics?

I am looking for a downloadable database of disease statistics. I have emailed the good folks over at HealthMap, but they haven't gotten back to me yet. As far as I can tell, their data relevant to ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Effects of Polyphasic vs Monophasic sleep in humans

Why do humans practice monophasic sleep cycles? When altering one's circadian rhythm to a Polyphasic sleep schedule, how much would that affect development? Is Monophasic sleep (once per day) ...
7
votes
1answer
100 views

What happens when we know that there is something that we forgot but we can't remember what it was?

I think it happens for everyone that sometimes we go to a room and forget why we went there. Is there any research or article on this?
7
votes
1answer
1k views

What hydrolyses aspirin within the digestive tract and blood stream?

I have had some further thoughts after my previous question regarding the buccal delivery of medication. The active compound in aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid or systematically 2-Acetoxybenzoic acid) ...
6
votes
2answers
95 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
4answers
186 views

What prevents predator overpopulation?

I've often heard that a population, human or otherwise, will continue to grow as long as there is food available (assuming nothing else is killing them off). It makes sense: if you have food you can ...
6
votes
1answer
100 views

Do adjacent axons in a nerve influence each other?

Suppose I have a nerve fiber consisting of several axons all running in parallel to each other. When an action potential is generated in a certain axon, this will alter the concentration of sodium ...
5
votes
3answers
546 views

Why did abiogenesis only happen once?

If the "primordial soup" theory of abiogenesis is to be believed, self-reproducing organisms spontaneously arose on Earth at least 3.5 billion years ago, surprisingly soon after the Earth cooled down ...
5
votes
1answer
678 views

How do neurons form new connections in brain plasticity?

I've been reading about brain plasticity and how the brain can "rewire" itself. One of the things that is not clear to me - how neurons can establish new connections. Does this rewiring mean that ...
5
votes
1answer
148 views

Is there such thing as Animal non-verbal body language?

Have there been any studies done on the animal use of their bodies to signal, communicate or express their emotions, particularly to members of other species (ex: humans)? I've been observing a very ...
4
votes
1answer
54 views

Why does max heart rate decrease with age?

I have heard that max heart rate declines steadily with age, and can be approximated by the equation Max Rate = 220 - Age. What is the physiological reason for this decline, and how is it ...
4
votes
2answers
167 views

Gas from bacteria that's not methane

Is gas produced by bacteria always mainly methane? Or, are there bacteria out there that produce some biogas composed mainly of hydrogen, natural gas, propane, butane?
3
votes
1answer
30 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
2answers
558 views

Ill effects of urea and NH3 on metabolism

What exactly does urea do that harms our body? Does it interfere with our cellular processes or disturbs the colloidal onchotic pressure of our blood? I have heard that $NH_3$ damages the brain. What ...
2
votes
1answer
164 views

What can cause the bloating in high protein diet of Whey proteins?

I am thinking what can cause the swelling of gastrointestinal system i.e. bloating after high protein diet of Whey proteins. Liver does breaks those proteins to branched chain amino acids (BCAA), ...
2
votes
1answer
37 views

Effective population size when the population sizes varies from season to season

Let's think of a species which has four generations per year and which population size changes from season to season so that the population size is 100 in summer, 200 in spring, 50 in autumn and 20 in ...
1
vote
0answers
19 views

Fast standing and the heart's insufficient accommodation of the increased venous return

Assume you are 45 minutes on the supine position. Furthermore: you stand all of a sudden and fast and without sympaticus activity. The venous return (smooth musculature of vessels) accommodates ...
1
vote
1answer
51 views

Additive genetic variance with $n$ loci

The genetic variance of a quantitative trait (the quantitative trait in question is fitness) can be express as the sum of two components, the dominance and additive variance: $$\sigma_D^2 + ...
1
vote
1answer
84 views

Additive genetic variance with $n$ alleles

The genetic variance of a quantitative trait (the quantitative trait in question is fitness) can be express as the sum of two components, the dominance and additive variance: $$\sigma_D^2 + ...
1
vote
3answers
80 views

Can antibiotic resistant bacteria compete with normal one in an antibiotic free environment?

The question is based on an intuition that antibiotic resistance can't come along. This mutation will probably make bacteria less tenacious. Is there any research how AR bacteria compete with normal ...
1
vote
1answer
826 views

What are the differences between G+ and G- bacteria?

The distinction between Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria is based upon the Gram staining method, that reflects the bacterial wall physical properties. However, this classification involves ...
19
votes
1answer
10k 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?
18
votes
3answers
15k 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
341 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
462 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
1answer
197 views

How does herpes (HSV) infection suppress HIV?

HIV compromises the human body to defend against infection. Yet people who are infected with herpes are at less risk of developing AIDS. How does this work?
13
votes
4answers
41k 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
915 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: ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Where does the 'C' in exhaled CO2 mostly come from?

When a human being exhales $CO_2$, what is, by the numbers, the main source of carbon atoms exiting the body in this way? I mean what class of cells, or which tissues are the biggest on a pie chart of ...
11
votes
1answer
797 views

How does evolution produce complex organs

I've been wondering lately how evolution manages to produce complex organs. It is pretty obvious to me how evolution would select some minor traits like size, resistnce to illness or climate. There is ...
11
votes
3answers
520 views

Human disease and associated phenotype database?

Does anyone know of any good databases that contain symptoms for diseases and other ailments in humans? I've tried working with UMLS, but thats been impossible to work with. I've also tried working ...
10
votes
3answers
321 views

Athletes: nature vs. nurture?

Having watched a lot of olympians the last few weeks, I was struck by how many of them have actually spent their wholes lives/careers training for their one event (be in running a marathon, or ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

How does translational coupling work in prokaryotes?

Today I heard about a phenomenon called "translational coupling", where the translation of one protein influences the translation of another protein. The messenger RNA levels don't seem influenced. ...
10
votes
2answers
226 views

What can the timing of human urination tell about the human's physical condition and circadian rhythms?

I've noticed a peculiar phenomenon. A subject drinks 400 ml of water, then observes time until the urge to urinate is felt. The time is 15 minutes. The subject releases water. 14 minutes later another ...
10
votes
2answers
339 views

Could an “overactive” brain increase the chances of Alzheimer's Disease?

From Raichle ME. 2010. Two views of brain function. Trends in cognitive sciences 14: 180–90: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of progressive cognitive decline and dementia in ...
10
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
160 views

How are new people created from the DNA of an aged person. i.e. Why are we young?

The question "why do we age" has been asked numerous times. But why are we young? The cells of the adult human being are an age (time>0), but how can old cells create new cells that are younger than ...
9
votes
2answers
24k views

Which shades/hues of color are easiest to distinguish for humans?

I'm trying to represent data graphically and am using a variation of hue/lightness to distinguish one data point from the next. I would like to use a color that would allow me to convey most ...
9
votes
1answer
76 views

Relative Property of Alleles

If there are three different alleles to a gene, is it possible that the first is dominant to the second, but recessive to the third?

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