14
votes
4answers
52k 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?
12
votes
3answers
4k views

What does irregular heartbeat mean in simple language?

I bought a blood pressure monitor (A&D UA-851) which has the option to measure irregular heartbeat. I do understand what 'irregular' means, but why do irregular heartbeats happen and what are it'...
9
votes
1answer
3k views

why is DNA antiparallel? Can it be parallel?

My biology textbook mentions that DNA is antiparallel and it got me wondering... Can DNA be parallel? What would happen if it was parallel? could DNA still replicate right?
8
votes
2answers
10k 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
178 views

The origin of molecular machines

DNA holds genetic information and holds the key to the evolution of living organisms. Transcription and translation mechanisms enable living cells to process information encoded in DNA. To that end, ...
5
votes
1answer
693 views

Is there any size limit to the amount of information a human (or other) brain can hold

Im not sure how this would ever be tested but is there a limit to how much the brain can 'hold' before it reaches capacity ? I guess this could also be interpreted in terms of memory, as how well ...
3
votes
1answer
664 views

Can DNA & RNA be considered as nature's programming language?

The final frontier of Biological Sciences could be considered understanding the effects of variation in the DNA (and RNA). If after fertilization the DNA of the zygote could be genetically ...
3
votes
1answer
136 views

Are carbohydrates an essential component of human diet?

Are people able to satisfy all the needs of a healthy diet without consuming carbohydrates? My question includes the assumption that a person has no health condition that would prevent them from ...
3
votes
3answers
161 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 ...
29
votes
2answers
8k views

What is the advantage of circular DNA in bacteria?

From what I understand, bacteria have circular DNA. What advantages does it have over linear strands like for eukaryotes? Do there exist bacteria with more than one ring of DNA?
19
votes
2answers
48k views

How many human cells are there in our body, on average?

How many human cells are there in our body, on average? Wikipedia says 1013: Bacterial cells are much smaller than human cells, and there are at least ten times as many bacteria as human cells in ...
19
votes
1answer
6k 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 ...
18
votes
3answers
520 views

Are human fetuses more likely to be male? [duplicate]

Question: From a physiological point of view, when sex is determined in a human fetus, is it equally likely to be male or female? Studies in this area typically measure age at birth, where the data ...
18
votes
3answers
7k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
1k 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?
17
votes
3answers
471 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
491 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
884 views

The Origin of Mitochondria

For a long time I've just accepted, because it is just what everyone told me, that mitochondria became organelles in the cell when they were "engulfed" by another cell which acted like it's host. This ...
12
votes
2answers
5k views

Why does strenous exercise cause vision of “lights”?

I had a hard climb a week ago. I got so tired then any time I closed my eyes I saw these lights inside my head. I see these lights almost every time that I run fast or some thing like that. What are ...
11
votes
3answers
421 views

During starvation, does the human body do anything to prioritize which organs receive nutrients?

When food is scarce, the body slows its metabolic rate to conserve energy. Are there any other systems or processes that prioritize which organs receive nutrients?
11
votes
5answers
387 views

Why have parasites not evolved to be harmless?

I have yet to understand why so many viruses or bacteria haven't evolved to be harmless (specifically, I don't know of any harmless virus). I think it would be greatly beneficial for a virus to ...
10
votes
2answers
382 views

Are there any side-effects from a mosquitoes extinction?

Suppose that we have the ability to make mosquitoes extinct, what would be the likely effects (on disease and ecosystems for example) of such extinction? Essentially, what roles in nature do ...
10
votes
1answer
379 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?
9
votes
1answer
169 views

What are the survival limitations of alcohol?

This question was inspired by watching one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies; particularly where Jack Sparrow allegedly survives on a desert island by finding an unlimited supply of rum. I've ...
9
votes
1answer
169 views

What bacteria do unborn babies contain?

This Scientific American article states that "[human] infestation [by bacteria] begins at birth". This would suggest that unborn babies are free from any bacteria. However, if the mother catches a ...
9
votes
2answers
176 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
3answers
8k views

Why can all animals swim in water without learning to swim but humans cannot?

I had a question since I was a child. I was always curious about the fact that all animals can swim in water. They don't need any training or to learn swimming. But humans need to learn to swim. Why ? ...
9
votes
1answer
715 views

Why are certain aneuploidies more common?

Certain aneuploidies such as trisomy-21 (Downs syndrome), trisomy-18 (Edward syndrome), Turner syndrome (XO) etc are more common than others. I had a vague thought that it is related to chromosome ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Does extracted DNA degrade after a certain time period?

For direct use as template in PCR runs. Chelex 100 5-10% w/v extraction. Without listing the whole protocol, in the end the supernate is decanted off and then stored at 4°C. I was under the impression ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

How does an inhibitory synapse communicate to the cell body of a neuron?

I picture a neuron as having multiple trees of dendrites attached to the cell body with a single axon leaving the cell body. I believe the cell body near the axon root makes the decision to fire or ...
8
votes
2answers
611 views

What is the smallest molecule that can present as an antigen to the immune system in the context of allergies?

People often claim, in a colloquial sense, that they are "allergic to everything". Is it possible to have a full-fledged IgE mediated allergic response to very small molecules? I was always under ...
8
votes
2answers
566 views

Reasons why living fossils exist?

A living fossil is a living species (or clade) that appears to be similar to another species otherwise known only from fossils, typically with no close living relatives. A living fossil is ...
7
votes
3answers
142 views

How is genetic speciation defined?

What determines speciation at a molecular level? At what point does a scientist determine two lineages are different enough to be considered separate species? Does it have a margin of error?
7
votes
4answers
829 views

Suitable introductory book on Bioinformatics for a computer scientist?

Do you have any suggestions on a suitable introductory text on bioinformatics for a computer scientist? Any recommendations with pros and cons of different books would be appreciated. I'm mainly ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does a light object appear lighter in your peripheral vision when it's dark?

So, I am not sure I can reproduce it via images, but the steps are: 1) At night, open a window and have a look at the surface of the earth 2) Suppose there's an object that reflects a tiny amount of ...
6
votes
2answers
831 views

How long can the brain survive during ongoing cardiac arrest?

There was this interesting discussion on CPR and defib in response to the question "Why can't we defibrillate the heart within 1 minute after ventricular fibrillation by electroshock?". Now I was ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

How is membrane capacitance related to the increased speed of saltatory conduction?

Here is the original question which inspired my question. As explained by the answers there, the reason saltatory conduction in myelinated neurons is faster than non-myelinated conduction is because ...
6
votes
1answer
177 views

Effects of selection on effective population size

Background The effective population size ($N_e$) is a central concept of evolutionary biology and is influenced by several parameters. For example: sex ratio bias affects $N_e$ $\left(N_e = \frac{...
5
votes
2answers
707 views

How does the brain know where a signal came from? What is the addressing system

I am an electronic engineer so I am thinking about this from an electronics outlook. How does the addressing system work, As I see it, the nervous system is small parallel branches attached to larger ...
5
votes
1answer
356 views

What is a Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam

I've read this question: What kind of event would cause the current Mitochondrial Eve to be replaced by a new one? And the values in Wikipedia about Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam and I am ...
5
votes
3answers
13k views

Is it possible for a child to grow taller than their tallest parent?

I have heard that offspring can't grow taller than either of their parents but I've also heard that sometimes some gene activation can skip generations. Is it possible for a child to grow taller than ...
4
votes
2answers
295 views

Book recommendations for algorithms used in evolutionary biology

Do you have recommendations for a book that presents the different algorithm used in theoretical evolutionary biology? I don't mean evolutionary or genetic algorithms (otherwise this question would ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Chromosome 2 fusion?

I read this article by Jeffrey Tomkins and Jerry Bergman claiming to debunk chromosome 2 fusion. Is there anything wrong with these conclusions? " 1.The reputed fusion site is located in a peri-...
4
votes
1answer
190 views

What is the evolutionary cause for various finger lengths?

Why are the lengths the way they are with middle finger the longest?
3
votes
1answer
358 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Ancestral Allele explanation

I'm having some trouble understanding the concept of ancestral allele. What exactly does it mean? What does it have to do with Identity by descent/state? What does it have to do(if anything) with SNP'...
2
votes
1answer
197 views

Why does the number of mutations per individuals follow a Poisson distribution?

I was reading this review. On page 11, left column, first paragraph, one can read: [..] there is a Poisson distribution of the equilibrium number of mutations per individual, if fitness effects ...
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 ...
22
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
910 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 pressure?...

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