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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).


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?
Jul
29
comment Could humans and chimpanzees hybridize?
Yes, Genetic evidence for complex speciation of humans and chimpanzees - that's from Nature so it's paywalled. Looking into it a bit though, I see that there's some later publications that have disputed the claims made in that paper so I'll leave you to judge the merits of the arguments.
Jul
29
answered Why might food spoil faster in Ireland than the US?
Jul
28
comment Why isn't a virus “alive”?
@nico: I've updated my answer with a couple of links.
Jul
28
revised Why isn't a virus “alive”?
Added links to more discussion
Jul
27
comment Why isn't a virus “alive”?
@nico: You said that a cell is a some point just DNA. This is false; it is never just DNA.
Jul
27
comment Why isn't a virus “alive”?
@nico: I disagree: a cell is never simply a piece of DNA, it always has membranes, organelles, proteins, etc. The division of mother->daughter is not the creation of a novel cell de novo from DNA but rather a process of growth followed by division. Even DNA replication is semiconservative - both copies are one part original, one part newly synthesized so neither can really claim to be more original than the other.
Jul
26
answered Why isn't a virus “alive”?
Jul
15
comment How to obtain bacteria samples at home?
I think this answer needs some information about safe disposal. I don't think you should be growing bacteria without knowing how to get rid of them safely.
Jul
12
comment What does “fit” mean in “survival of the fittest”?
A book on the philosophy of evolution I read a while back. I don't have it to hand to give you a reference.
Jul
12
answered What does “fit” mean in “survival of the fittest”?
Jul
4
answered Mitochondrial DNA and recombination
Jun
29
reviewed No Action Needed Why does the apex of the human heart usually point to the left?
Jun
27
awarded  Revival
Jun
26
answered Could humans and chimpanzees hybridize?