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36

The vast majority of the mass of a plant is carbon-based which is obtained directly from the air via photosynthesis. So trees are, in a loose sense, solidified air! And most of the mass that comes from the ground is water which, of course, is constantly being replaced when it rains (or by Charlie with her watering can).


31

Proteins can move around the membrane. Most proteins do move within the membrane. The membrane is a liquid crystal and has fluid behaviour. Specifically, this is due to the membrane being in a gel-state. This gel state allows phase behaviour which means that the protein is able to move around on the surface. This results in an effect that is often referred ...


23

Dickinson (2005) has a good review of insect flight, including behavior, biomechanics, electrophysiology, and neural control with links to more of the primary literature. What follows is a general summary thereof. The jagged trajectories you mention are called saccades in the insect flight literature. In Drosophila, saccades are ~90° turns accomplished in ...


22

An older answer that referred to the physiological feats of ancient humans, and why modern humans are wimps made me look up a couple of papers on running speeds a while ago. One of the examples used to support the statement that modern humans are "wimps" is a study of ancient fossilized footprints from Australia, which claim that the individuals making the ...


21

Usually in biology (and being ATP, it most probably is biology), it's one of two things. The gamma-phosphate (the third one, the one farthest from the adenosine) is very unstable, meaning the phosphoanhydride bond is easy to break. The cell "allows" it to break, but only at the cost of moving the phosphate to some other molecule, such as a serine or ...


21

Phospholipid bilayers found in cells are usually negatively charged. The phosphate groups repel each other by like charges and prevent two membranes from coming too close to each other. Membranes are also full of proteins and often coated with carbohydrates, which serve to keep membranes from interacting too strongly. See this diagram of a membrane bilayer: ...


20

Birds have a body part known as the nicitating membrane otherwise known as the "third eyelid". This part has become vestigial in humans, where it remains as the plica semilunaris. This image of a masked lapwing clearly shows its nicitating membrane in action, where it covers the eye in a horizontal motion. This is analogous to blinking in humans, and the ...


20

Welcome to Biology.SE! I think you are talking about plantigrade, digitigrade and unguligrade. Please note that the number of joints in mammals does NOT vary, but only the relative length (and shape) of the different parts of the leg. A Plantigrade walks on the sole of the foot. 'Sole' translates to 'planta' in latin hence the name. Examples: Human, ...


19

Although at first sight this might seem to be biology rather than physics, maintenance of human posture is an example of control theory. Indeed a quick Google will find many publications on it - I found a good review here. A standing human is a dynamical system that is not in equilibrium so it requires a (closed loop) feedback system to maintain it. This ...


18

I just weighed a pigeon tail feather (~10 cm) long. The mass was 0.05 g. Although all tail feathers are not equal in length (and all pigeons are not equal in size), this is probably a good approximation. Measuring the drag coefficient is going to be very challenging, because it will vary with the orientation of the oncoming airflow. A feather falling with ...


17

There are two factors that need to be taken into account here: 1. Myelination decreases membrance capacitance. The rate at which sodium influx through a node can depolarize the axon at the next node is related to both the current and capacitance across the membrane (in addition to a few other factors). So while adding a new node to the axon would indeed ...


17

Short Answer Myelination acts as an electrical insulator and allows saltatory propagation. By reducing membrane capacitance and increasing membrane resistance, myelination increases the velocity of signal (i.e., Action Potential) propagation. If you want to see a really wonderfully simplified explanation, see this Quora post by Edward Claro Mader. Four ...


16

Absolutely a serious part of research - quantum mechanics defines chemical structure and reactivity. Whenever you see a headline like 'Scientists find quantum effects important in protein activity, weird huh?', read it as 'Scientists find pragmatic classical approximations inadequate in describing protein activity'. In protein structure, for example, ...


16

The Cicada A careful study of the noise-making apparatus of the cicada can be found in a 1994 paper by Young and Bennet-Clark.$^1$ The authors generated sounds at about 0-16 kHz at peaks on the order of 100 dB using cicadas in various stages of deconstruction. The cicada uses a resonant organ-system called the tymbal which buckles and unbuckles rapidly to ...


16

The membrane bilayer is held together by hydrophobic forces. This is an entropy driven process. When a greasy or hydrophobic molecule is suspended in water, the water molecules form an organized "cage" around the hydrophobic molecule. When two hydrophobic molecules come into contact, they force the water between them out. This increases the entropy because ...


16

Since you chose kinesins as an example class of motor proteins, I will also stick to them. In general, the movement mechanisms of kinesins are well studied and the general structure of kinesin proteins, that is a dimer, is known by crystallography (see Kull et al. (1996) for the structure publication). Even before that, the movement of single kinesin ...


12

It isn't about heat but ultraviolet light. Melanin is the pigment that makes our skin colour whatever it is and in darker skin there's more melanin. Melanin dissipates UV, which otherwise would cause skin cancer as it introduces mutations into DNA. Melanin production is stimulated by UV so that's why tanning beds work, our body senses the danger and responds ...


12

While Luke's answer is perfectly correct, the answer can be given in a more intuitive manner. First, the main point is that it is increased positive voltage (inside the axon) that opens the sodium ion channels to propagate the action potential. The question is: how fast can this voltage get to the sodium channels? In an unmyelinated axon, the movement of ...


12

Disclaimer: This is not my field of research. First, this is not a complete answer to our question. A nice explanation of the current hypothesis of water transport in trees (Dixon-Joly cohesion-tension theory, originally proposed 1894) can be found at The Amazing Physics of Water in Trees but also in Tyree (1997). The key points are that the stoma (leaf ...


12

Short answer The activation kinetics of Na+ channels are faster than K+ channels. Background Voltage-dependent channel gating basically occurs through three possible states of the channel: open, closed and inactivated (Fig. 1). Fig. 1. Gating of a voltage-activated sodium channel. Source: Balseiro Institute. Basically, ion channels are protein pores in ...


11

We should first understand what happens when a substance dissolves. During dissolution water interacts with the solute molecule; if the strength of interaction between the molecule and water is higher than the strength of interaction among the solute molecules then the solute dissolves. (Also have a look at this post). Phospholipid is an amphipathic ...


10

Wootton (1992) reviewed the anatomy and biomechanics of insect wings. Basically the wing is a lightweight but strong scaffolding of veins, supporting a thin membrane. The veins are composed by a sandwich of cuticle with a potential space in between. The membrane is also a double-layer but without the space. In the venous space are is circulating hemolymph ...


9

No; the problem is, as you pointed out, that no organism will manage to multiply, grow or even sustain itself without absorbing matter to create new cells and fill metabolic losses. Even photoautotrophic organisms which get energy from light (which is in fact an E-M wave, so pretty close to electricity) collect matter from the environment -- plants for ...


9

Quick search - Some articles that may interest you: 1) Random walk model of insect movements Kareiva P. M., Shigesada N. (1983). Analyzing insect movement as a correlated random walk. Oecologia 56(2-3) 234-238 2) Artificial life model of flying insects and its comparison to real insects navigation strategies. Dale K., Collett T. C. (2001). Using ...


9

You can certainly get massive differences between EC50 and affinity. This is especially true for cell-based assays and membrane protein systems. The reason why is because the appropriate time scales to achieve binding equilibrium (hrs for nM affinity, days for picomolar, feptomolar affinity according to back of the envelope calculations) may be and likely ...


9

That quasi-travesty is the Nernst equation in $\log_{10}$ for a positive monovalent ion at physiological temperatures (37 degrees celsius), but they've hidden all that from you. Shame on them. The canonical form of the Nernst equation, for an ion $S$ is $$ E_{S} = \frac{RT}{z_{S}F}\ln{\frac{[S]_{out}}{[S]_{in}}} $$ where $R$ is the gas constant, $T$ is ...


9

I think this question has more to do with kinetics / transport phenomenons than biology, but that's okay, everything is connected especially my computer to the internet. ;-) The basic idea behind transport phenomenons is that there will always be a flux of quantitative properties (e.g. charges, particle number, entropy, volume, etc...) where the qualitative ...


9

Three facts: The K+ ions are heavily concentrated on the inside while the Na+ ions are heavily concentrated on the outside The Na+/K+ ion pump is unidirectional. It can only pump K+ ions inside the cell while expelling the Na+ ions. Finally only the Na+/K+ ion pumps can restore the ionic equilibrium. The full scene: Once the threshold is reached the Na+ ...


9

Yes, various intracellular membranes do have potential differences, but as you can imagine they are more difficult to measure experimentally, so in general data on this is scarce. Summary Mitochondrial membrane: 150mV-180mV with negativity on the matrix side. Seth et al 2011 Endoplasmic reticulum membrane: 75-95mV with negativity in the ER. Qin et al 2011, ...


8

The mechanism is called "capillary action". It requires a tube of a small diameter and happens because of the adhesion of water to the walls and the cohesion within the water (=surface tension).


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