3,118 reputation
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location Cambridge, United Kingdom
age 29
visits member for 2 years, 10 months
seen yesterday

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 …

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Sep
4
revised What is the Edward O. Wilson fuss about?
Speling & grammer. Duh.
Sep
3
answered What is the Edward O. Wilson fuss about?
Aug
30
comment Evolutionarily speaking, why do humans have 46 chromosomes
@nico Sure. What I meant was: given that our close ancestors had a different number of chromosomes, when/why did it change? That’s an interesting question, and essentially what OP is asking.
Aug
30
comment What kind of fruit is this?
So you can eat it? Damn, I wasted my childhood! I always walked by such a tree but was too afraid to try.
Aug
30
comment Evolutionarily speaking, why do humans have 46 chromosomes
@nico Sure, but there was certainly (some) selection on conserving the number. Normally, large-scale mutations such as chromosome fusions are immediately fatal and even when they are not they potentially prevent procreation with individuals which don’t have that mutation. So at least superficially there should be quite strong selective pressure to preserve ploidy.
Aug
27
comment What is an organism?
@ymar Sure. But a desert is not an organism which can proliferate by itself: mitochondria are restricted in their proliferation by the surrounding cell, but together with the cell they can proliferate beyond that single cell. The cod can proliferate more or less limitless within its biotope but the biotope itself isn’t an organism with which the cod can cooperate to reproduce further.
Aug
27
comment What is an organism?
@ymar Literally, proliferation without (theoretical) limit. Mitochondria can try as hard as they want, they cannot proliferate beyond their host cells. On the other hand, humans can theoretically proliferate to the bounds of the biosphere, which, itself, has no fixed bounds (except the edge of the Universe if you’re so inclined).
Aug
27
comment What is an organism?
@ymar No. They form an organism with their host cell. Endosymbionts are organisms but mitochondria are derived from endosymbionts. They are no longer endosymbionts (according to the common definition of the term).
Aug
27
revised What is an organism?
added 297 characters in body; added 48 characters in body; added 2 characters in body; added 95 characters in body
Aug
27
answered What is an organism?
Aug
26
comment How many human cells are there in our body, on average?
Well, the Nobel quote is wrong whichever way you turn it (for the reason outlined in the Wikipedia quote). But I wouldn’t be surprised that, even taking the average, there’s an uncertainty of a factor 10 about the correct number. Because all the factors used to determine the number are crude estimates indeed.
Aug
25
comment Human evolution: Where *exactly* did the first human come from, whose parents were not?
@Mohammad I had understood the question but the answer remains that 1. we do not know, and 2. it varies. Concerning your specific example, it’s not even known whether humans and chimpanzees (not ancestors, but closely related species) could produce viable offsprings. Many biologists are convinced that they could, even though their chromosome numbers are different. Of course, this is an impossible, because unethical, experiment. Mating modern humans with 250kya ancestors would almost certainly work.
Aug
25
comment Human evolution: Where *exactly* did the first human come from, whose parents were not?
@Mohammad Excellent question. Unfortunately, Russel’s answer is spot-on. For instance, some species of dogs cannot inter-breed simply because of size differences, not due to other genetic incompatibility. Some species of crickets could inter-breed but aren’t sexually attracted to each other due to different mating calls. Some species, such as the Larus gulls (technically, all one species) can both inter-breed with a third, but not with each other.
Aug
24
answered Human evolution: Where *exactly* did the first human come from, whose parents were not?
Aug
22
comment Why do DNA and RNA have the functions they have?
@bobthejoe Is it? Most of the mRNA seems to be unstructured, apart from cap, tail and maybe 3ʹ UTR. I admit that I haven’t read anything stating this definitely but I’ve also never read anything to the contrary (and a structure in the coding sequence sounds worth mentioning), and in fact the (electron scanning) photographs I’ve seen of transcription show elongated, unfolded mRNA tails.
Aug
22
comment Why do cockroaches flip over when they die?
Do they flip over? I’ve always considered that to be just a comic representation. Maybe it’s just easier to spot dead cockroaches which have flipped over, since the others aren’t easily distinguishable from live ones? …
Aug
22
comment Why do DNA and RNA have the functions they have?
@bobthejoe While that’s interesting in general (good answer!), here we are talking specifically about mRNA where structure plays no or only a very minor role.
Aug
21
comment Why isn't there any repulsive force between Na+ and K+ disrupting thier roles in transmembrane voltage/ action potentials
Actually a fair point.
Aug
21
revised What would need to be discovered to prove there is extraterrestrial life?
added 34 characters in body
Aug
21
answered What would need to be discovered to prove there is extraterrestrial life?