13
votes
2answers
156 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
278 views

Can plants get cancer?

I can't think of any reason why plants wouldn't be able to get cancer, but I've never heard of a plant growing a tumor. I've also never seen a plant with a noticeable abnormal growth. Can plants get ...
13
votes
2answers
2k 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. ...
13
votes
1answer
843 views

Are human bodies programmed to die?

Following from this question: What is the evolutionary advantage of death?: Is there any evidence that human bodies have systemic self-destruction built into their developmental program? I'm not ...
13
votes
1answer
8k views

What effect has changing pH and salt concentration on protein complexes?

I'm struggling to find peer reviewed literature that explains the effect of changing the pH and the salt concentration on protein/protein complexes in solution. What effect does the pH and the salt ...
13
votes
1answer
471 views

How do porcupines keep from pricking each other while mating?

How do porcupines keep from pricking each other while mating? It seems like they would constantly be scratching each other.
13
votes
2answers
321 views

When does BLAST fail to align 2 DNA sequences?

This is an assignment that had confused me for a long time. So I think you guys who study computational biology might be interested. The original question is: Find the two most similar DNA ...
13
votes
4answers
256 views

Machine learning for light microscopy — problems to solve?

I would like solve some biological problems that would improve the state-of-the-art of biology or bioinformatics. In particular, I want to apply machine learning on light microscopic images. The ...
13
votes
2answers
373 views

What kind of fruit is this?

Just spotted this fruit while walking to school. It's the size of a small coin.The taste is almost sour and tangy and somewhat sweet (I only tried one of them and very little of it). I admit, ...
13
votes
1answer
214 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
2answers
214 views

What is the contribution of viruses to the evolution of mankind?

I'm interested in horizontal gene transfer in bacteria, viruses, and organisms such as Bdelloid Rotifers. I've just read in Carl Zimmer's 'A Planet of Viruses' the following passage: As a host ...
13
votes
1answer
15k 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
195 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
517 views

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 ...
13
votes
1answer
3k 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
2answers
2k 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
281 views

Can parts of a human brain be asleep independently of each other, or vary in the times required for them to fall asleep?

I know that some birds and marine animals can continue complicated activity (swimming, flying?) while one hemisphere of their brain is asleep. I'm interested if human brain has some parts of it that ...
13
votes
1answer
872 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
488 views

How fast will cells lyse under hypotonic conditions?

Routinely, lysis of cells with hypotonic solutions is carried out along with some physical (douncing) or enzymatic (lysozyme) method to break open the cells. If one were not to do any of these and ...
13
votes
5answers
6k 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
379 views

Is it correct that the body only responds to the most painful stimulus?

I'm rather ashamed to say that this question is partly based on an episode of House. I have previously heard that, if there are multiple simultaneous painful stimuli, the mind will only feel the ...
13
votes
1answer
190 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
251 views

Do the majority of fish lack scales on their heads?

Based on pictures, it seems to me that a vast majority of fish species that have scales do NOT have scales on their heads. Is that fact true? To make this properly answerable: lets' define a ...
13
votes
0answers
170 views

paralogue genes in genome-wide association studies?

Has anybody tested if paralogous genes are over-represented among the genes identified by genome-wide association studies (GWAS)? For example, if a GWAS study finds 200 genes associated to the ...
12
votes
7answers
2k views

Is there a biological mechanism for evolution encoded into our DNA?

Throughout high school, I remember learning about Darwin's theory of evolution as if it were near-fact. But something always seemed wrong about the ideas presented. Survival of the fittest Random ...
12
votes
10answers
882 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
5answers
324 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
4k 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
2k views

Why is high fructose corn syrup unhealthy?

I understand that high fructose corn syrup was found to have detrimental effects on peoples' health. Why is this so?
12
votes
3answers
30k views

What is a coupled reaction and why do cells couple reactions?

I was wondering what exactly a coupled reaction is and why cells couple them. I read the wikipedia article as well as several others, such as life.illinois.edu but I still don't get it. Could ...
12
votes
4answers
298 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
214 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
228 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
1k views

Why do we like salt?

A few friends of mine told me that salt provides zero nutritional value to us, and in fact can harm our bodies. Now, these guys are medical students, and being an engineering student myself, I decided ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Why would a single celled organism evolve to be multi-celled?

I read a story this week on Richard Lenski who has been 'evolving' E. coli for more than 50,000 generations now. One comment I read was from someone who doesn't accept Evolution who pointed out that ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there any use of CO₂ in human body?

We all know CO₂ as a waste product of metabolism . Does CO₂ have any helpful role , apart from having a role in pH of blood ?
12
votes
4answers
487 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
3answers
456 views

Why is there a difference in the rotation of the tail fin in fish compared to marine mammals?

I've been thinking about this one, but I can't seem to find what causes this difference. All fishes that I've seen have their tail fin positioned vertical: But all the marine mammals I know have ...
12
votes
3answers
31k views

NADH vs. NADPH: Where is each one used and why that instead of the other?

I know NADH is used in cellular respiration and NADPH is used in photosynthesis. What difference does the phosphate group make that the same one isn't or can't be used for both? Is there a greater ...
12
votes
4answers
410 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
177 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
1answer
2k views

What do you see when your eyes are closed?

If you are in pitch black and you close your eyes, you sometimes can see strange shapes of various colors. A lot of the time these shapes and colors change as you observe them. This phenomenon still ...
12
votes
2answers
4k 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
447 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
363 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
524 views

Are there neurons that can sense light shining in your ears?

I know someone who bought earphones that shine light in you ears. According to what he was told, there are neurons that sense light and then make you feel wide awake when activated, which seemed like ...
12
votes
1answer
807 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
1answer
3k 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
724 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 ...

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