8
votes
6answers
457 views

Introductory literature for synthetic / systems biology?

I'm a computer engineer (MsC Computer Engineering) who's looking to switch into the field of synthetic / systems biology. I've got a comprehensive layman's understanding of evolution, genetics, ...
19
votes
1answer
593 views

Natural examples of XOR functions at the cellular level

We can often think of cells as a sort of circuit on macromolecules, and can show that they can accurately and robustly implement functions like $\text{MAJ}(x_1,...,x_n)$ (return $1$ if more than half ...
21
votes
1answer
4k views

What is the criticality of the ribosome binding site relative to the start codon in prokaryotic translation?

In prokaryotic translation, how critical for efficient translation is the location of the ribosome binding site, relative to the start codon? Ideally, it is supposed to be -7b away from the start. ...
18
votes
4answers
5k views

Are mitochondria dead?

In the video "What is Life? Is Death Real?", the subject of mitochondria is raised at 2:58. At 3:12, the narrator says "[mitochondria] are not alive any more: they are dead." What currents of thought ...
15
votes
3answers
615 views

What is the most difficult feature to explain evolutionarily? [closed]

I wonder what are examples of organs/structures/behaviours/cooperation that evolutionary biologists themselves find most difficult to explain -- to explain how they could appear evolutionarily -- ...
14
votes
8answers
11k views

Why have humans evolved much more quickly than other animals?

Humans have, in a relatively short amount of time, evolved from apes on the African plains to upright brainiacs with nukes, computers, and space travel. Meanwhile, a lion is still a lion and a ...
7
votes
2answers
120 views

Intuitive explanation for Kin- and Group- selection

It is known from theoretician in the field of kin selection that kin selection (inclusive fitness theory) and group selection are actually two sides of the same coin. In other words, these two ...
37
votes
2answers
2k views

How do cockroaches resist the effects of ionizing radiation?

Cockroaches are very hardy insects. It is known that, among other things, they are able to withstand bursts of ionizing radiation that would kill a human being. The explanations of this observed ...
27
votes
2answers
5k views

Why do tattoos persist if body cells are regularly renewed?

I am not quite sure if it is true, but I read somewhere that within 7 years all the body's cells are replaced with new ones. I am not quite sure if it is cells or atoms. If it is then why do tattoos ...
25
votes
3answers
41k views

If the brain has no pain receptors, how come you can get a headache?

I've read many years ago in books, that the brain has no nerves on it, and if someone was touching your brain, you couldn't feel a thing. Just two days before now, I had a very bad migraine, due to a ...
21
votes
3answers
4k 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 ?
17
votes
1answer
2k views

Do insects' muscles become stronger with exercise?

I am curious to know if insect muscles become stronger with exercise, because I have seen many insects get tired out, but I have never seen one get stronger. They always seem to become permanently ...
15
votes
2answers
985 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
369 views

Do fake wasp nests actually fool wasps?

I have seen fake wasp nests sold as a deterrent against wasps and similar insects. Do they really work? Is there some scientific evidence for it? A related link: ...
13
votes
2answers
503 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
1answer
997 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 ...
12
votes
10answers
1k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
674 views

How does the genetic code evolve?

After looking at this question, some other questions poped in my mind. The DNA code is redundant, there are 20 amino acids for 64 possible nucleotide combinations. Therefore some amino acid are coded ...
10
votes
1answer
219 views

Does stress physically age our body?

Going by the assumption that stress eventually triggers a flight/fight response, and the subsequent realization that flight/fight puts the body in a system of readiness to use it's available resources ...
9
votes
1answer
534 views

When does weak selection produce qualitatively different results from strong selection?

In evolutionary game theory, it is typical to model organisms as having a base fitness that is modified slightly by the game interaction. The ratio of the game effect versus the base fitness ...
9
votes
3answers
800 views

Do memories have mass?

If it were possible to live forever, would our brains grow infinitely with the number of memories that we store? Or would we remove old memories as we create new ones?
8
votes
2answers
3k views

Does one parent transmit more DNA to the offspring than the other one?

Does one parent transmit more DNA to the offspring than the other one? Or do both parents always transmit the same amount of genetic material to their offspring? In other words, can a baby be ...
8
votes
2answers
468 views

What does fitness really mean?

Fitness is certainly the most important concept in the theory of evolution. My question does not have to do with practical measures of fitness but with the theoretical definition of it. I am a bit ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Disadvantages of unihemispheric sleep

Is is well known fact that marine mammals and some birds can sleep with one brain hemisphere at a time, since it's essential for their survival. However, at least in my opinion, such mechanism would ...
7
votes
4answers
674 views

Can the human brain be reduced to a binary system?

Does the brain really function like a computer as in, ultimately every response is related to a binary sequence based on whether particular neurons fire or not?
7
votes
1answer
2k views

On average how many genes / alleles do people share?

I am curious about how much more a child can be alike to one parent than the other. If a child were to inherit all the alleles that are shared between both parents from one parent, but inherit all ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Smallest unit on which selection can act

Traditionally, the individual was considered to be the smallest unit on which Natural Selection (NS) acts. Today, we usually consider the gene as being the unit of NS. Of course, we should also ...
6
votes
2answers
112 views

How are Genetic Circuits Modelled?

I've read a recent Nature Methods paper by Moon T.S. et al, in which a synthetic genetic circuit consisting of layered logic gates was created. For example, the paper, a circuit is modelled in Figure ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What are we missing about the real workings of the evolutionary process? [closed]

As a scientist (and a computer scientist at that) my view is that if we cannot simulate a process we have not understood it properly. I have been following the interesting field of Artificial Life for ...
3
votes
1answer
149 views

How does sepsis affect heart function?

I have intuition that sepsis with infection can cause: spastic functioning of heart during systole heart working spontaneously in snatches during systole atrial fibrillation first contraction of ...
36
votes
3answers
1k views

How does the sensitive plant detect vibrations?

The sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica) is a remarkable little plant whose characteristic feature is its ability to droop its leaves when disturbed: Apparently, this ability to droop rests on the cells ...
22
votes
1answer
690 views

How, on a physical level, does ATP confer energy?

When ATP is used as the energy currency to make, say, reaction X + Y → Z happen, is what happens on a physical level down at the molecular scale that during the reaction ATP + H2O → ADP + Pi ...
21
votes
3answers
416 views

How is the blood volume of a living organism measured without killing it?

How is the blood-volume of an organism measured without killing it? Note:The blood-volume of an organism is defined as the total volume of blood present inside that organism.
20
votes
3answers
3k views

Were there any flying dinosaurs?

I've seen some articles which came in contradiction with each other. The first article was talking about flying dinosaurs, dinosaurs with feathers and so on. A couple of other articles are talking ...
20
votes
1answer
333 views

Evolutionary origin and exogenous cues of ~28 day infradian rhythm?

The most obvious example of an approximately monthly biological cycle is the human menstrual cycle. My questions are the following: Is it known when and where this cycle or one like it arose? What ...
17
votes
2answers
943 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is 'Grudger' an evolutionary stable strategy?

I am currently reading 'The Selfish Gene' by Richard Dawkins, which I am sure many here have read. The topic are evolutionary stable strategies (ESS) regarding cooperation. I apologise for the long ...
16
votes
2answers
9k 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
2answers
643 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
12k views

Why do dogs try to cover their poop?

It may seem obvious to us humans to hide our excreta, but this is not quite normal behavior for animals. Interestingly, dogs have the habit to pee all over the place. It's know that they do so to ...
12
votes
3answers
206 views

How are long time periods measured in biological systems?

Biological systems are pretty good at measuring fairly long times, for example, menstrual cycles (month), or puberty (years). Counting days or years seems to be implausible, and chemical concentration ...
12
votes
2answers
3k 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
241 views

Beginning of the urogenital system

Are any invertebrate nephridia (proto/meta) homologous with vertebrate kidneys in the sense that embryologically they also begin together with the genital system? When did the embryologic association ...
10
votes
1answer
260 views

What are the functions of magnetic bacteria?

I'm trying to understand why are bacteria "equipped" with magnetosomes and why/what for do they need such organelles.
9
votes
1answer
4k 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) ...
8
votes
3answers
445 views

Are the number of base pairs in a given chromosome same between different individuals?

This is a basic question but I couldn't find an answer through a web search; hopefully this is the right place to ask. Is the number of base pairs in a particular chromosome the same in all ...
7
votes
1answer
161 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
160 views

Are low-intensity radio-waves carcinogenic?

A recent review article, Oxidative mechanisms of biological activity of low-intensity radiofrequency radiation reached a surprising conclusion our analysis demonstrates that low-intensity RFR ...
6
votes
1answer
142 views

Hill-Roberston effects and effective population size

From this article, first page, middle of the second column: Even if harmful alleles do not become fixed, they can still reduce the efficacy of selection on neighbouring loci through a process ...

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