14
votes
1answer
106 views

What are the main mechanisms of interaction between the nervous and immune systems?

We know from pop science that our psychological states have an effect on our immune systems ("worrying ourselves sick", etc.), but what are the actual mechanisms through which our nervous systems pass ...
14
votes
1answer
1k 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?
14
votes
1answer
577 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
2answers
854 views

Impact of Alan Turing's approach to morphogenesis

Shortly before his untimely passing, the computing pioneer Alan Turing published his most cited paper The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis (1952). The central question for Turing was: how does a ...
14
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 ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

What causes REM atonia to be lost in sleepwalking?

I understand that in normal REM sleep the voluntary muscles are in effect paralysed in order to prevent an individual acting out their dreams. This paper indicates that there are likley to be ...
14
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

Given ATP synthase's structure, how can 3.33 protons ultimately synthesize one and only one ATP?

I am familiar with the structure and function of ATP synthase, but one small detail doesn't seem to make sense. It also happens to be a detail that seems very hard to express. Depending on the ...
14
votes
1answer
558 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
340 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
994 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
145 views

Are there animal models for Clostridium difficile that better replicate human infection than hamsters?

So I'm looking for some information on the infectious dose necessary to colonize a human with Clostridium difficile. There's no human challenge studies, and since it's not a foodborne pathogen, little ...
14
votes
1answer
199 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
425 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
369 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
197 views

Paralogous 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
60k 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 ...
13
votes
9answers
5k views

Why didn't the polar bear change its color from white to black during evolution to absorb heat?

Polar bears are white in color and white color is not a good absorbant of heat. Why then didn't they evolve a black color to absorb more heat?
13
votes
5answers
353 views

Can species back-evolve?

One of the tenets of Darwin's theory is the survival of the fittest, ie adaptation of features that allow a species to adapt better to its surrounding environment. I am wondering that given the right ...
13
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 ...
13
votes
4answers
32k 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?
13
votes
3answers
3k 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?
13
votes
3answers
835 views

How many human proteins have a solved 3D structure?

I was wondering how many human proteins have a solved 3D structure. Is there a database with only human proteins? I looked at pdb but couldn't find a filter.
13
votes
3answers
675 views

Are there cats with black skin?

Some mammals can have a black, pink or spotted skin, depending on race - see for example humans or pigs. But I recently learned that this is not the case with mice. Even black furred mice have pink ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

When has an organism evolved enough to be called a new species?

Imagine that we take a population of horses, split them in half and place them in completely different environments. The two species will evolve separate from each other and because the environment is ...
13
votes
5answers
2k views

Why are some genes dominant over others? 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 as well, what is the reason that my eye color is brown? How does one gene maintain ...
13
votes
2answers
456 views

Are there issues with filling PCR tubes to capacity?

I'm planning to scale up a PCR reaction, and I'm wondering if filling the PCR tubes to the maximum volume of 200 ul would be a problem. It would mean a lot less pipetting as I would only need 1/4 of ...
13
votes
2answers
4k views

How will rising carbon dioxide levels in the troposphere affect photosynthetic producers?

Much discussion has been had about the affects of climate change on plantlife, but how will rising carbon dioxide concentrations affect the photosynthetic process itself? Since CO₂ is a reagent in ...
13
votes
2answers
409 views

Evolution in 37 years, is it possible?

I am confused, can evolution ( speciation ) really occur in such a short time ? In 1971, biologists moved five adult pairs of Italian wall lizards from their home island of Pod Kopiste, in the ...
13
votes
3answers
644 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
511 views

Intrinsically disordered proteins as potential drug targets

Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) are a class of proteins that do not adopt a stable secondary or tertiary structure under physiological conditions in vitro, but still have biological ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Why I have to pee more often in low temperature? [closed]

I realised that I have to pee more often in winter or simply the temperature is low. Is there any scientific explanation, or just simply psychology?
13
votes
2answers
7k 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
652 views

Does testosterone increase female sexual behavior?

According to my lecture notes testosterone generally increases sexual behavior. Given that it's generally thought to be the male hormone I'm not quite sure whether they mean that it also increases ...
13
votes
2answers
3k views

What effect does vortexing have on a fluid sample that simple mechanical shaking does not?

Some protocols call for fluid samples to be mixed with a "vortexer" on the high setting. What effect does the vortexing have on fluid samples that mechanical shaking does not? Does it shear long ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

Do men have more extreme variations than women?

This question was considered unsuitable for Skeptics and I think it is more suited to BIology than Cognitive Sciences I was reading this article which I found interesting. It is not supported with ...
13
votes
2answers
262 views

Percentage of genome devoted to regulating gene expression

Recently I've been studying the p53 tumor suppressor gene as a model for regulation of gene expression. It's amazing how many different post-translational modifications are known to regulate p53 ...
13
votes
1answer
3k views

How does a plant grow before photosynthesis is possible?

During photosynthesis, a plant translates CO2, water and light into O2. I assume the carbon C is further used for the growing process. I wonder how the plant grows before the time where photosynthesis ...
13
votes
2answers
989 views

Is the EC50 of an activating protein for an enzyme a good indicator for the binding affinity Kd?

We work with a membrane protein system where measuring the affinity between the enzyme and the upstream activating protein has been difficult, and when measured in detergent solution, it is almost 100 ...
13
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 ...
13
votes
3answers
833 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
579 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
929 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

How do insects breathe?

Do ants even breathe? If they don't, how do they stay alive? On what resources do they depend upon to stay alive? How are they different form mammals?
13
votes
2answers
516 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
438 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
370 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
1answer
986 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
2answers
472 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
10k 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 ...

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