Questions tagged [history]

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

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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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Book recommendations on the evolution of trees

Trees have been around for hundreds of millions of years, since the first "true wood" evolved during the Devonian period ~400M years ago. This means we have fossilized wood in the form of tree ferns, ...
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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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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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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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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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What ailments used to be completely fatal (or nearly so) but, now modern medicine has a treatment or cure?

My brother was a Type 1 diabetic and back in high school I did a report on diabetes. One of the things that struck me was that before 1921, type 1 diabetes was basically 100% fatal. I was wondering ...
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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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53 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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329 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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199 views

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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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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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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59 views

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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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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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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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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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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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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126 views

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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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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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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372 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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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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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 taken by ...
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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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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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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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486 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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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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448 views

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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200 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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135 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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447 views

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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614 views

What was the first piece of work in computational biology?

What was the first piece of work in computational biology? I'm ideally looking for a paper. I am not interested in works that involve data management or data analysis but work that model biological ...
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87 views

Did the Hela cells leave John Hopkins

Did John Hopkins let people outside of the university use the Hela cell-line that was isolated from an immortalised cervical cancer?
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When was it discovered XY chromosomes decide the sex of a child in humans?

Several stories are told from before-genetic-age (books and movies are my reference, the one present in my mind is Marie-Antoinette by Copola) in which we can always see that women are blamed for ...
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Darwin's first sketch of a phylogenetic tree

Coming from Darwin's notebook this first sketch of a phylogenetic tree became one of the most emblematic image from Darwin's work. I have a hard time to read what is written on it. What is written ...
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295 views

What were the camels' humps good for back in the polar areas?

I've heard that camels lived in the North America formerly and just in the last few thousands years they've migrated to the hot deserts. Thus they allegedly utilized the adaptations against the cold ...
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What is the Cordil that Edward Topsell describes?

In his "History of four-footed beasts and serpents", Edward Topsell describes a "serpent" called Cordil. Since he lists everything that crawls on the ground as a serpent, regardless of being a reptile,...
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135 views

Books about famous experiments in biology - 'methods of investigation'

I'll explain briefly what I need (hoping to find something) : I wanted to know if someone knew about a book that in a way or another talked about the greatest experiments in biology (Griffith, Avery-...
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321 views

Was Darwin aware of the difficulties behind the concept of species?

Introduction The concept of species is a very old concept that suffers from not being a natural category. There exists no single definition that would categorize living beings into groups and that ...
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'Obviously True' Statements that turned out to be false? [closed]

As someone who studies mathematics, there are plenty of examples by which some theorem that was considered as "obviously" true later turned out to be completely false. I was discussing this with my ...
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First life forms to evolve controlled flight

What was the first living organism able to fly in the skies and control their direction , not just Aeroplankton like bacteria and viruses carried by the winds but something like an winged insect or ...
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Original paper about the all or none law for neurons

I am looking for the original paper about the all or none law for neural activity. I know that there is a very old article about the all or none law for mammalian heart muscle fibers, but I'm ...
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867 views

Restriction enzymes, how are the recognition sequences determined?

How were the recognition sequences (e.g. GAATTC of EcoRI, GGATCC of BamHI) characterised? Text books only list the recognition ...
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Why are plant buds called 'eyes'?

I was reading the etymology of the Latinate English verb 'inoculate' which contains the following part that generated the question entitled above: [...] inoculare "graft in, implant a bud or eye of ...
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Who and when was the first human diagnosed with hemophilia, or considered a carrier?

The earliest case I can find is Queen Victoria of England, who ruled from 1837-1901. Is this the first hemophilia case on record?