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Questions tagged [biophysics]

The use of methods from the physical sciences to aid in the study of biological systems.

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3answers
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Why is saltatory conduction in myelinated axons faster than continuous conduction in unmyelinated axons?

How does spacing apart sodium and potassium channels allow the action potential to travel faster down the axon? This is the reason always cited for saltatory conduction and myelination, but my mental ...
17
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4answers
9k views

How do trees lift water higher than 10 meters?

The atmosphere pressure is 10 meters of water (approx). This means that it is impossible to lift water higher than 10 meters with vacuum or сapillary action (on Earth, under normal conditions). There ...
5
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1answer
1k views

If the average resting potential of a neuron is -70 mV, why is there such a high ratio of potassium ions inside relative to out?

My bio teacher was discussing the ratios of different ions inside versus outside the cell. $$\text{OUT:IN}$$ $$\text{K}^+ (1:20)$$ $$\text{Cl}^- (11.5:1)$$ $$\text{Ca}^{2+} (10000:1)$$ $$\text{Na}^+...
7
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1answer
1k views

Why lipophilic molecules can pass phospholipid bilayer, in spite of 2 hydrophilic layers?

It is commonly told that, hydrophobic/ lipophilic/ nonpolar molecules can quite easily pass phospholipid bilayer, and hydrophilic (polar or ionic) molecules can't pass (when no protein aid that); ...
3
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1answer
3k views

What is the relationship between UV wavelength and penetration depth into human skin?

Some background - Some recent research has strongly suggested that UVA penetration into the skin is far more dangerous than UVB, a very good example is this paper by Agar et al. (2004). My query is, ...
12
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5answers
19k views

Does darker skin color make it easier to live under sun?

I have always thought darker colors absorb more heat from the sun, so if you are wearing a white T-shirt you will be cooler under sun than wearing a darker T-shirt, or a black piece of steel will be ...
26
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1answer
1k 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  &...
7
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1answer
1k views

What physics knowledge can be applied to biology of organisms and ecosystems?

In the wiki page of Biophysics: Biophysics spans all scales of biological organization, from the molecular scale to whole organisms and ecosystems. But after searching on the internet; the ...
9
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1answer
2k views

What keeps the resting potential of neurons constant at -70 mV?

I know the sodium-potassium pump pumps out 3 Na+ ions and pumps in 2 K+ ions per reaction so the negative charge in the axon increases. However, once the voltage (difference of charge inside and ...
9
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2answers
19k views

How is membrane capacitance related to the increased speed of saltatory conduction?

Here is the original question which inspired my question. As explained by the answers there, the reason saltatory conduction in myelinated neurons is faster than non-myelinated conduction is because ...
18
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2answers
3k views

How do birds deal with their eyes drying out at high speeds?

My eyes tear up when cycling at 15 mph, which is nothing compared to bird airspeeds. Do birds continuously produce lots of tears and blink a lot, or do the eyes self-moisturize from the inside ...
8
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2answers
1k views

Can a single axon propagate multiple simultaneous action potentials?

I have not been able to locate any research that indicates whether a single axon of a neuron or nerve cell can conduct multiple simultaneous (i.e. spatially separate) action potentials. I am aware ...
18
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1answer
2k views

How fast can a human run?

I'm a runner (cross country) and I'm always amazed at how fast Olympic sprinters are. There's a lot of hype about those in the 100-meter dash being the fastest in the world, and we're constantly ...
3
votes
1answer
730 views

What is the biological potential for vision of wavelengths outside the human visual range?

Humans eyes have evolved to perceive light only between approximately 350-700nm, because that form of light is most common to our lifes. Other animals can perceive lights with slightly different ...
2
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0answers
47 views

Are trees still carrying their leaves more likely to be felled by an autumn storm?

Is there evidence that trees still carrying their leaves are more likely to be felled by an autumn storm than trees already having lost their leaves? At first sight this seems plausible (and might be ...
2
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1answer
175 views

Health effect of electromagnetic and acoustic waves on brain function [closed]

What if any effects are there on brain function from prolonged exposure to electromagnetic or acoustic stimulation?
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1answer
336 views

How non-invasive blood glucose concentration measurement work?

Diabetes patients need to conduct the “fingerstick” a few times a day. One of the mechanisms of "fingerstick" is to take small amount of blood sample and put it onto a test strip. The enzyme on the ...
10
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1answer
2k views

What is the difference between organelle membranes?

Cells and organelles are contained in lipid bilayers. I'm particularly interested in eukaryotic organelle bilayers and the biophysicochemical differences between them. Many papers assume a ...
9
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2answers
6k views

What is the anatomical term for a two jointed leg?

Allow me to apologize in advance for the layman's terminology. I'm wondering what the anatomical term for a cat- or a goat-style hind leg is. Cats, goats, t-rexes, and many many other animals don't ...
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4answers
2k views

Is human vision sensitive to frequency or wavelength?

In a vacuum, there is a one-to-one correspondence between light frequency ($\nu$) and wavelength ($\lambda$), ie. $\lambda=c/\nu$. But in a refractive medium, $\lambda=v/\nu$, so while the frequency ...
5
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0answers
113 views

How to measure Na/K channel activation at the membrane level?

Assume that there are two different signals occurring on the ECG - during depolarization and repolarization in the standard ECG. I was advised not to use the standard ECG in measuring the exact ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Problems understanding membrane potential

I understand that membrane potential is the difference of the extracellular and intracellular ionic charges, due to their concentrations. We say that the extracellular space has a charge of 0 and then ...
1
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1answer
110 views

Half-life and production rate of ion channels

There are "not millions, not a few hundred...somewhere in between (some tens of thousands)" of ion channels in a neuron. Given the number of ion channels per neuron, knowing the half-life of ion ...
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0answers
29 views

How much Cardiomyocyte Move in Relation to its Neurons?

I am trying to estimate how much cardiomyocyte and its things (mitochondria) move in relation to neurons Movement of neurons (1) Movement of cardiomyocytes Movement of cardiomyocytes' mitochondrias (...
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2answers
3k views

Is the EC50 of an activating protein for an enzyme a good indicator for the binding affinity Kd?

We work with a membrane protein system where measuring the affinity between the enzyme and the upstream activating protein has been difficult, and when measured in detergent solution, it is almost 100 ...
9
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2answers
3k views

How efficient is the human body at metabolizing food?

My friend and I were having a discussion over how "efficient" human digestion is. If a human ate a 1000 calorie hamburger, how many of those calories (how much energy) does the body process into ...
7
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2answers
3k views

Why do most organisms have negative supercoiled DNA?

It has been observed that in nature most organisms have negative supercoiled DNA and that few organisms have positive supercoiled DNA. Some of the organisms that have the positive supercoiled DNA live ...
7
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2answers
832 views

Permeability of Plasma Membrane

I’m having trouble grasping why small polar molecules can cross the hydrophobic region of the membrane and not ions. Won’t the polar molecules be attracted to the watery extracellular medium and not ...
4
votes
2answers
493 views

Why do negative ions flow into a cell in an inhibitory synapse, even though a neuron has a negative resting potential?

In my spare time I have been reading an introductory Psychology textbook and this question came to my mind after reading about action potentials. I have no previous knowledge in chemistry so if I do ...
3
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0answers
146 views

Is it possible to biologically convert potential energy to chemical energy?

To lift an object x meters it is necessary to expend, at a minimum, an amount of energy corresponding to the increase in that objects potential energy associated with the increase in height. When ...
2
votes
1answer
619 views

Are Bovine serum albumin, Avidin, Ficoll-70 and Dextran-70 positively charged or negatively charged? [closed]

Bovine serum albumin, Avidin, Ficoll-70 and Dextran-70,are they positively charged or negatively charged ? And which other solvents can be used as a substitute to water for preparing solutions in each ...
1
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1answer
168 views

Speed of passive transport of ions in the dendrite

I tried hard to get them, but I didn't get any numbers. My (subjectively) best Google search was for "speed propagation post-synaptic potential". My question is: How fast are ions transported ...
0
votes
1answer
156 views

Don't the radioactive labeled molecules of dNTPs or DNA harm themselves or their surroundings?

I'm reading some papers for the first generation sequencing methods and some earlier than them, like Ray's Wu first time DNA sequencing from a λ phage virus cohesive 5' ends. Ray Wu, like Maxam-...