3,073 reputation
524
bio website
location Cambridge, United Kingdom
age 29
visits member for 2 years, 10 months
seen Sep 25 at 7:03

I’m a bioinformatics PhD student at EMBL-EBI and the University of Cambridge but I’m originally from Berlin.

My programming interests span from C++ over .NET and dynamic languages all the way to XHMTL/CSS and R.

I’m mainly working on genomics using high-throughput sequencing data. My thesis is about the regulation and expression of non-coding RNA (especially tRNA) in mammals.

Here’s my …

twitter-pic Twitter account
g+-pic Google+ account
github-pic Github account
cv-pic Resume


Dec
31
comment What is the most difficult feature to explain evolutionarily?
Fair enough, point taken.
Dec
31
comment What is the most difficult feature to explain evolutionarily?
I agree with (2) simply because it’s very hard to find good evidence (as you mentioned with the “just so” stories). I disagree with (1) since this can be explained by quite easy models and is a classical example of evolutionary arms race.
Dec
30
comment Where can I find the common names for the zoology taxonomy?
That list is called Wikipedia. ;-) … Seriously, (almost?) all Wikipedia articles on animals carry both the common and the scientific name.
Dec
30
comment Why did the process of sleep evolve in many animals? What is its evolutionary advantage?
@Innab It’s irrelevant that the energy expense is only a fraction. The important thing is that there is any at all. Do the math, it will never be beneficial to rest instead spending the same time hunting, because the net energy balance of hunting is positive (i.e. energy take-in rather than expense), so in sum, resting will always spend more energy than hunting.
Dec
29
awarded  Commentator
Dec
29
comment Could Junk DNA be used as a Turing Machine by nature?
@nico Redundancy is required for a fail-safe system, it provides a direct evolutionary advantage. And while our bodies aren’t particularly efficient in many aspects that cannot be controlled by evolution (laryngeal nerve …), most isolated systems under evolutionary control have been highly optimised. For instance, a eukaryotic cell’s energy turnover is orders of magnitude more efficient than any engine or generator ever created by humans (intelligently designed).
Dec
29
comment Why did the process of sleep evolve in many animals? What is its evolutionary advantage?
Point 1 seems to be a circular argument (or flat out wrong): if the animal weren’t sleeping it could hunt / forage for food. Even in sleep, we expend some energy so this calculation will always come out favourably on the side of staying awake.
Dec
29
comment How many human proteins have a solved 3D structure?
Notice that “solved” is very subjective. Not all of the structures are of high quality, and some of them are just plain incorrect due to experimental errors.
Dec
29
comment Could Junk DNA be used as a Turing Machine by nature?
@nico If it didn’t code or regulate, it would be garbage which the cells have to drag around with them. More expensive to replicate and maintain, more material cost (just because it’s longer and requires more material to form), requires more space in the cell. There are evolutionary disadvantages to having a large, partly non-functional genome.
Dec
29
comment Why do we age? or Do we have a theory of senescence?
I’ve never been completely convinced by the wear & tear argument: germ cells (and all unicellular organisms) are direct descendants of the “arch” cell. Not just genetical, but cytoplasmatic, through cell division. If the wear & tear argument were naively true, germ cells would long have ceased working. Now, it may be that preventing wear & tear is so expensive that metazoa have disbanded it in somatic cells (where it’s expendable). But I’ve never heard that mention.
Dec
29
awarded  Supporter
Dec
29
comment Has there been any observation of species adapting the evolution process?
I don’t think this entails a change in the underlying mechanism. At least, not one that has been demonstrated yet. “social selection” is a very diffuse term. Does it actually differ from natural selection? Personally, I doubt it: it can be readily explained in terms of natural and sexual and kin selection so this would be the most parsimonious explanation.
Dec
27
comment Why are there nail growth differences between humans and other mammals?
@Maxim The ability to regenerate legs (or other parts).
Dec
26
comment Why are there nail growth differences between humans and other mammals?
@Maxim Not in humans. But in plenty of other animals, and there doesn’t seem to be a fundamental reason why this couldn’t in principle work in humans.
Dec
26
comment Why are there nail growth differences between humans and other mammals?
@Maxim Of course there are mechanisms for that. How else does a leg know when to stop growing? Or any other organ in the body. Most of the mechanisms behind that aren’t yet completely understood though.
Dec
18
awarded  Autobiographer
May
26
comment Why does looking at bright light trigger sneezing in some people?
“not entirely understood” clashes with the explanation you give just below. The mechanism is entirely understood.