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visits member for 1 year, 8 months
seen Sep 8 at 15:17

I am currently working towards a PhD in microbial genetics. Before that I spent a bit over a decade working as a programmer, with most of that time spent writing computer games. I have degrees in Mathematics (MMath), Life Sciences (BSc) and Molecular Genetics (MSc).


Jan
11
comment Do humans have enough biological differences to be grouped into races or subspecies?
It depends what you mean by race; because race isn't actually meaningful you obviously can't reconstruct it. However, given a DNA sample it is possible to make a good approximation of the appearance of the person the sample is from. I don't think such a reconstruction would be reliable enough for law enforcement purposes, but it's pretty good none-the-less.
Jan
11
comment Do humans have enough biological differences to be grouped into races or subspecies?
@terdon: The bird of paradise are not a species, as you note in your answer and I don't think it's clear - at all - that humans show relatively little phenotypic variation. I would say that humans are probably on the high side (likely due to the huge range that humans occupy).
Jan
11
answered Do humans have enough biological differences to be grouped into races or subspecies?
Jan
11
comment Do humans have enough biological differences to be grouped into races or subspecies?
Hmm... I'm not sure how useful comparing natural variation (human phenotypes) to artificial variation (dogs, cats and pigs) really is. Are you humans really less phenotypically variable than wild animal species? I guess ring species might make a good comparison?
Sep
7
answered Why can't cell division happen the other way around?
Aug
22
comment What is the difference between these worms: Caenorhabditis elegans and Eisenia fetida?
@Mys_721tx: I don't see how you can have 41 amino-acid substitutions at a single site between two homologous genes. Surely you can have at most one substitution per site on each gene?
Aug
22
comment What is the difference between these worms: Caenorhabditis elegans and Eisenia fetida?
What does "there are about 41 amino-acid substitutions per site" mean?
Aug
19
reviewed Close How come that we “feel” it when someone's watching us
Aug
17
answered What is the advantage of restriction enzymes cutting only at specific sites?
Aug
15
comment Why did the urinary bladder evolve?
@PaulA.Clayton: Not really. There are grades of speculation, aren't there? And we're free to disagree on what its reasonable and what is not. The rest of your points are good, I just disagree that the first in plausible.
Aug
15
answered Why did life not evolve to use radio?
Aug
14
comment Why did the urinary bladder evolve?
I doubt the validity of your first point; I do not see how urine could be used for scent marking until it has evolved. I think it's a case of exaptation of an existing feature for a new purpose.
Aug
14
answered If body temperature is 37°C (98.6°F), why are most people more comfortable at around 21°C (70°F)?
Aug
14
answered Why are some fungi poisonous?
Aug
9
comment Species Identification - small insect: is this a bed bug?
Can you smell almonds? Bud bugs have a distinctive smell usually described as being "like almonds".
Aug
9
revised What decides the position of the node of Ranvier?
Swapped code indent for quote tags
Aug
8
answered How can sex ratios remain Fisherian (1:1) in species where only the dominant male gets to mate
Jul
31
comment Why isn't there a standard unit of promoter strength?
@LanceLafontaine: Extremely relevant for a particular purpose carried out in a particular way. That doesn't call for a standard measure; instead if you want to compare the effectiveness of two promoters you can simply compare them by Western Blotting or qPCR and see what you find. If you are desperate for a number, this will quantify the difference.
Jul
30
comment Why isn't there a standard unit of promoter strength?
No, it can't. Consider DUO1 in Arabidopsis: it's a gene that expresses strongly in the germline but is entirely unexpressed in somatic tissue (and, in fact, is detrimental if it is). How will expression in vitro be extrapolated then? If your in vitro model is similar to the germline you'll get results irrelevant to any other cell; if your results are relevant to the somatic tissue you'll fail to understand key processes in the germline. The major issue in gene expression is its variation.
Jul
30
answered Why isn't there a standard unit of promoter strength?