Questions tagged [history]

Questions relating to how the field of biology has developed over time.

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History of molecular virology [closed]

I am looking for experiments and papers that lead to our current understanding of the molecular mechanisms in which viruses affect cells. For example which experiments lead to the "uncoating"...
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1 answer
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Can a dead fish be made to twitch via electrostimulation?

Galvani in the 1700s famously showed that a dead frog can be made to twitch by electric stimulation. The hind legs are particularly susceptible. Salt helps in the activation, as shown in these videos: ...
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How were plant stress hormones discovered? [migrated]

My plant stopped growing in a specific direction after I pinched it there, and I've read it's because it released stress hormones that signaled it to do so. I was interested in how do we know this? ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
109 views

Giant inflatable laboratory in the jungle. How to find it?

When I was a child (circa year 2000), I watched a documentary (in English) about some biologists doing research about jungle (perhaps Amazon). The biologists lived in a base which was a huge ...
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What are the definition of pecking order? [closed]

Pecking order is the phenomenon that dominating individual usually eat first. It is commonly observed in animals. In animals, it is often due to the fact that the strong individual won the fights for ...
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17 votes
2 answers
539 views

How to decipher references in natural history works of the late Renaissance and early Modernity?

Old botany books from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries (and maybe also some later ones) enumerating lists of species used to give references to their sources as abbreviations consisting of one or few ...
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3 votes
1 answer
291 views

Why did Rivers replace Koch's postulates?

In 1937, Rivers introduced a new set of postulates that were meant to replace those formulated by Koch. However, I couldn't find an article (or other scientific literature) that describes why Koch's ...
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2 votes
1 answer
62 views

What Old World fish produces "white gems" in its brain?

In his ancient list of "white gems," Isidore of Seville mentions the "cinaedia," which he describes as follows: Cinaedia is found in the brain of a fish with the same name; it is ...
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Which landmark paper first described the differentiation of T-cells?

T-cells are distinguished from B cells in part by their locus of differentiation/maturation (thymus). This is textbook knowledge, but I was wondering which particular person or people were responsible ...
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1 vote
1 answer
260 views

Did Mendel believe that proteins are hereditary substances?

Scientists first thought that proteins, which are found in chromosomes along with DNA, would turn out to be the sought-after genetic material. Proteins were known to have diverse amino acid sequences, ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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When was peptidoglycan discovered?

I've searched for some time now, but I can't find a definitive answer. The closest I have gotten is "knowledge about peptidoglycan structures dates back to the 1970s–80s" from this paper.
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21 votes
1 answer
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Why do we use an autoclave at 121°C (250F)? (Origin)

Let me start by saying I know why, but I am inquiring more about the origin. My question is more related to literature that I cannot seem to find. I've found some helpful papers and information on the ...
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Pre-Mendelian genetics

In the 18th century, Joseph Gottlieb Kölreuter concluded from his plant experiments that in some hybrid generations the characteristics of grandmother generation, grandfather species and F1 generation ...
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38 votes
7 answers
5k views

Has there even been a clinical study where healthy volunteers consented to be infected with a pathogen?

I am curious if there has ever been a (modern) clinical study where a healthy volunteer was purposefully infected with a pathogen in order to test the effectiveness of a therapeutic or preventative ...
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Who were the first authors to talk about local adaptation?

I was curious to read about what Darwin had to say about the existance of locally adapted subpopulations. I discovered to my surprise that the expressions and terms "local adaptation", "spatial ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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Who invented dN/dS?

I am writing a paper, and I want to refer to the original paper that coined the term dN/dS (or Ka/Ks for that matter). I have found early works on dN and dS (like Miyata and Yasunaga 1980), but cannot ...
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5 votes
2 answers
339 views

What did Francis Crick and James Watson discover that Rosalind Franklin didn't?

I've recently been introduced to the history of DNA research from Miescher to Franklin, Crick, and Watson, and I've found that Franklin had figured out a great many number of things out that Crick and ...
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2 answers
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Who created the codon wheel chart (not as a table)?

I'm trying to find out who created or first used the codon wheel chart as far as we can know. I don't mean the tabular format.
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High altitude rail travel

This question is primarily about human performance. I do know about hypoxia, hence this question. I'm busy designing a fictional region, currently in the 1930's. I have a railway line that climbs to ...
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15 votes
1 answer
2k views

What is the evidence that plants and animals had a common ancestor?

According to the theory of evolution (which I don't dispute), plants and animals evolved from a common ancestor, probably a eukaryote. I'd like to know how we know that to be true. Specifically how ...
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3 votes
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Pre-linnaean names, where can I ask about current IDs?

I run a large website with lots of historical herb books. For the older ones, finding out current botanical names is very difficult. Can I ask here? If not, does anybody know where I could ask what ...
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2 votes
3 answers
196 views

Rejection of valid theories of biology on theoretical grounds

Is there a theory in biology that was initially disregarded as false (because of critical or contrasting perspectives) and only recognized as important after a considerable time, possibly only in ...
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1 answer
71 views

Book on the history of Darwin's discoveries and development of his theory

This question is a book request. I am wondering if there are any books with these elements: Tells the history of Darwin's discoveries. Captures Darwin's changing views of the origins of species, ...
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2 votes
1 answer
662 views

On which chromosomes were the traits studied by Mendel?

In his experiment with peas, Mendel mainly studied two traits : yellow/green colours and round/wrinkly shapes. I've heard that the pea genome is very large and its sequencing is a challenge. However, ...
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History of plasmid maps

To create a small history of visual representations in biology, I am seeking the earliest published papers or books that have used plasmid maps as figures ; or strategies to effectively search for ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Pangenesis and Lamarck's theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics

I've read that Darwin had split ways with Lamarck's evolutionary ideas. Yet his theory of pangenesis seems to support Lamarck's theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics. What am I missing?
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5 votes
1 answer
187 views

Darwin's views on Lamarckian Heredity?

Currently I'm reading She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity, a fascinating book about heredity by the popular science author Carl Zimmer. While reading this I ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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When was it understood that a male haemophilia sufferer can't pass it on to his sons?

Haemophilia A and B are both X-chromosome mutations, so a sufferer necessarily inherits the disease from his mother. She won't have serious symptoms unless both of her X chromosomes have the mutation, ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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The role of atomic theory in biology

Feynman writes, in his Lectures on Physics Vol. 1, Chapter 1: The most important hypothesis in all of biology, for example, is that everything that animals do, atoms do. In other words, * there is ...
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2 votes
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What happened to pertussis incidence in the US between 1955 and 1974 and why?

The Wall Street Journal ran a great collection of infographics in 2015 superimposing the dates on which vaccination was introduced for various childhood diseases on their incidence: http://graphics....
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12 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why aren't 'exons' named 'introns'?

Why are introns called 'introns' when they are the actual ones who are getting spliced out from the pre-mRNA. Shouldn't exons be named introns as they are the ones that are 'in' and are not 'exiting'? ...
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6 votes
3 answers
347 views

Did early 20th century researchers state why they used E. coli as a model organism?

I am investigating the early uses of E. coli as a model organism. Sadly, many early 20th century papers are not in English. In those that are, I have been unable to find explicit statements as to why ...
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4 votes
2 answers
3k views

Vitamins — how did they get their names?

There are several types of vitamins. A,B,C,D,E,H,K,P, etc. How did they get their names?
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2 answers
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Meaning of term ‘rapidly labeled RNA’

I encountered the term, “rapidly labeled RNA”, in the article: Rapidly labeled HeLa cell nuclear RNA. I. Identification by zone sedimentation of a heterogeneous fraction separate from ribosomal ...
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6 votes
2 answers
232 views

Did Carl Linnaeus ever name a species he never saw?

According to this post Carl Linnaeus named more than 13,000 species which is definitely quite impressive. If we consider a 50 years career it makes about 5 species per week! It would feel impressive ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Blood Group Notation

In a textbook, I encountered a notation used when writing blood groups down, which was "I" with the blood group type as a superscript. I was curious as to why the letter "I" is used in this notation ...
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4 votes
0 answers
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When did human and animal blood became distinguishable from each other as forensic evidence?

Since a few decades ago, DNA testing became an important tool in criminal forensics, and a lot of information can be gathered from a single drop of blood or from a few cells. Even before that, blood ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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History of ideas about the form of the genetic code

In preparing a lecture on mRNA translation and the genetic code, I remembered a talk given at a symposium where they mentioned the origin of the code and how, before the code was established, various ...
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2 votes
2 answers
497 views

Where did the term "vegetative nervous system" come from?

I am interested in the origin of the name. I am aware that Reil coined the term in the 1800s, but want to know why did he choose the term vegetative. I have not been able to find an answer to this ...
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5 votes
2 answers
277 views

Names of different cyclins

Different types of cell cyclins are designated as a to y Why are some letters like m, n, p, q.. etc. skipped? Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclin
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4 votes
1 answer
448 views

Was Raymond Gosling supervised by Rosalind Franklin? [closed]

The story of how the structure of DNA was deduced is fairly complicated and controversial, but most parties agree that a key pieces of data was "Photo 51", an X-ray diffraction image of DNA ...
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46 votes
1 answer
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What am I looking at in Franklin's Photo 51 of DNA?

Here's Rosalind Franklin's famous Photo 51, the X-ray diffraction image of DNA from which Watson and Crick deduced its structure: My understanding is that it depicts a short segment of DNA shown from ...
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3 votes
2 answers
98 views

Etymology of PAX proteins

What is the reasoning behind naming proteins first found in Drosophila as paired box? All I could find on internet is that it was first found in Drosophila as a protein with paired domain, but I ...
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12 votes
2 answers
6k views

ECG wave names origin

Why do electrocardiogram waves go P, Q, R, S, T and not like A, B, C, D? Is there any specific reason behind this?
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0 votes
1 answer
531 views

Why we aren't making Darwin's theory a Law [closed]

I was wandering about darwin's theory which is controversial theory and there are no enough evidence to prove it right or falsify it, since I'm a biology student so i studied basic way of a hypothesis ...
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5 votes
1 answer
10k views

What is a microsome?

This site says: In cell biology, microsomes are vesicle-like artifacts re-formed from pieces of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) when eukaryotic cells are broken-up in the laboratory; microsomes are ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
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Why does the term "epicondyle" often refer to either of the two at the elbow end of the humerus?

Why does the term "epicondyle" often refer to either of the two at the elbow end of the humerus? Example: I understand that epicondyle means near a condyle, but there are several condyles in the ...
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5 votes
2 answers
234 views

Research from the early molecular genetics era that supported protein as the primary carrier of genetic information?

I can't seem to find anything on my own. Surely there were experiments performed (possibly using bacteriophages) that managed to come to this conclusion? Specifically I'm interested in anything pre-...
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0 votes
0 answers
166 views

Ray wu DNA sequencing methodology understanding

I'm trying to understand the method which Ray Wu, developed to sequence the DNA 5' cohesive ends of a lamda phage. I'm reading these two papers written by him, but i stuck at the point where he uses ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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What is the origin of the name "λ phage"?

The lambda bacteriophage which infects E. coli was first discovered by Esther Lederberg in 1950. However, in the earliest paper on the lambda phage that I could find, I was unable to find the ...
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