18
votes
3answers
14k 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
321 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
427 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?
14
votes
1answer
321 views
+200

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 ...
13
votes
1answer
191 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
40k 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
879 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
254 views

What elements are a possible basis for life?

I've been told that life on earth is carbon-based, Then I got curious about one thing: What are the possible bases for life and under which circumstances could lifr based on other elements exist? If ...
11
votes
1answer
744 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
484 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
4answers
19k views

What is the armpit hair for?

Modern human beings, especially women, cut their armpit hair. It seems to me the armpit hair is trivial/useless. Shortly speaking, what is the armpit hair for?
10
votes
3answers
318 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
1k 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
216 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
331 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
154 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?
9
votes
4answers
2k views

Why can cones detect color but rods can't?

I don't know if this question applies to only humans but why can cones see much greater detail than rods? Is it possible to have a rod that can detect light intensity and color?
9
votes
3answers
1k views

Why some genes are dominant to each other? What is the mechanism behind it?

If i have a brown eye gene which encodes the protein that is responsible for the brown color, and have a blue eye gene either, what is the reason that my eye color is brown? How does one gene ...
9
votes
1answer
102 views

Why is there an extended delay before G.M. liver cells are attacked by the immune system?

In this BBC article a trial is described where patients with B-Haemophillia are infected with modified Adeno-associated Virus 8 which contained the genes for Factor IX clotting protein. Trials seemed ...
8
votes
2answers
482 views

How much weight/volume do microbes occupy within the human body?

Microorganisms constitute the bulk of all the biomass on Earth. I weighed myself yesterday, and wondered how much less I would weigh if I were completely free of bacteria and microbes, inside and out. ...
8
votes
1answer
152 views

Why does the gender of the parent species determines the species of a hybrid offspring

I've read a little about hybrid animals, and have been amazed by the fact that the gender of the parent species determine the species of the offspring, in some hybrids. A male horse and a female ...
7
votes
1answer
147 views
+50

Why does Hunger lead to the aggressive behavior?

I have observed that frequently when people are hungry; they tend to get angry more easily on pointless issues. Does this mean that our fight or flight response is more active when a person is hungry? ...
7
votes
2answers
126 views

The Assumption of Weak Selection?

I was reading this question and I failed to fully understand the introductory part of it. The OP (@Artem Kaznatcheev) says: Most analytic models like to assume weak selection because it allows ...
7
votes
1answer
88 views

Can cancer cells in the same person, organ, and origin have different DNA?

Is it possible for cells from the same tumor to have different genetic material, and if so, to what degree is it possible (how fast do they mutate) ?
7
votes
1answer
311 views

How is the exogenous DNA protected from degradation during bacterial transformation?

During transformation, a bacterium can take up DNA from its environment. A small fraction of bacterial species are known to be naturally competent, meaning that they can engage in this sort of ...
7
votes
1answer
176 views

Recombinant protein fraction in E. coli

If a protein is heterologously expressed in E. coli under the T7 promoter, what fraction of the total protein concentration in the cell is the heterologously expressed protein? What could be its ...
7
votes
1answer
866 views

How does this illusion work?

I found this image on Google+ If you shake your head you can see a portrait of a person. Can anyone explain how the image is constructed in the brain?
7
votes
2answers
202 views

Does becoming martyr have an evolutionary advantage?

This is related to How does "be altruist to those who are similar to you" evolve? Altruism that is Not reciprocal Not familiar has little explanation. One possible explanation is that ...
7
votes
1answer
96 views

Which brain regions are D1 dopamine receptors expressed, and which brain regions are D2 dopamine receptors expressed?

This is a follow-up question to If D1 receptors stimulate adenylate cyclase (through GPCRs) and D2 receptors inhibit it, then why do mutations in both have similar effects?. As a further question - ...
6
votes
1answer
206 views

Alternatives to CFU plating for measuring number of viable cells?

I am hoping to measure growth rates of a bacterial culture in several growth conditions. I am concerned that these growth conditions may cause cell death, which would lead to a decreased ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What determines if a gene is dominant or recessive?

Going back to my high school days we were taught about dominant and recessive genes. We were taught how to calculate the geneotype and pheneotype of potential offspring using a small table (forgotten ...
6
votes
1answer
746 views

Why does the heart use lipids (and not glucose)?

Fetal hearts use glucose as their primary metabolic substrate. Adult hearts use free fatty acids, which are less efficient (require more $O_2$ to synthesize the same amount of ATP); however, during ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Why we have no enzyme to digest cellulose?

As we know, cellulose is the most abundant polysaccharide in nature. Why don't we have any enzyme to digest cellulose?
6
votes
1answer
528 views

How to obtain bacteria samples at home?

As the original question went from hold to closed, I thought I would write up a more appropriate question. How should one go about getting bacterial samples to look at under a microscope at home? ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

What causes the colors we see in eyes?

Genetics aside, what are the biochemical reasons the different colours of human irises? Also, related, how does eye colour change, particularly in childhood? (example: my eyes used to be blue, ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Why do neurons have a negative resting potential?

Neurons expend the majority of their energy powering ion pumps to maintain the chemical gradients that power their electrical activity. To have a negative resting potential, neurons leak potassium ...
6
votes
2answers
348 views

Why does sexual selection evolve beautiful features?

First question here. I have a very raw understanding of sexual selection: Say a group of females of a certain species "likes" some feature of a certain groups of males; by "like" I mean some ...
6
votes
1answer
471 views

Exercise causes number of cell divisions to approach Hayflick limit faster? And hence shorten life expectancy?

A world class athlete spends a lot of time performing intense exercises. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I assume that these intense exercises causes significant damage to the athlete's cells, but with ...
6
votes
1answer
139 views

How does skin healing work?

I stacked my bike and split my head right open. About three weeks later the scab falls off and the skin is sealed over, like magic! How does it all work? How does the brain know that part of the ...
6
votes
2answers
310 views

How do cells “know” what “type” to differentiate into?

I have been reading about Townes and Holtfreter's work in 1955, in which cells are dissociated from a blastocyst in an alkaline solution then mixed together and spontaneously reaggregates based on ...
6
votes
1answer
255 views

Computational/mathematical models for predicting phenotype from genotype

Karr, Sanghvi, et al. (2012) propose a whole-cell computational model for predicting phenotype from genotype in Mycoplasma genitalium. Their model simulates myriad cell processes such as DNA ...
6
votes
1answer
396 views

X chromosome “weight”?

According to Wikipedia, the X chromosome has approximately 153 million base pairs, while the Y chromosome has only 60 million base pairs. Thus, the difference is roughly 93 million base pairs. My ...
5
votes
0answers
111 views

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

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
226 views

Variations in Genome Sizes

Why is there wide variation in genome size amongst groups of protists, insects, amphibians and plants, but less variation within groups of mammals and reptiles?
5
votes
2answers
132 views

How is gene expression estimated?

I'm reading this fantastic article on estimating body time: Molecular-timetable methods for detection of body time and rhythm disorders from single-time-point genome-wide expression profiles and one ...
5
votes
1answer
247 views

How to do western analysis to lung tissue?

I am working with lungs from mice, and I want to do a western blot analysis to my samples. I am having trouble with this because my images turn out very "messy", with a high background. Perhaps I ...

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