Konrad Rudolph
  • Member for 10 years, 1 month
  • Last seen more than a month ago
Large caterpillar with prominent eye-spots and a Morse-code pattern
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4 votes

This appears to be an oleander hawk-moth caterpillar (Daphnis nerii) shortly before pupating. Otherwise the caterpillar would be bright green in colour: Newly hatched oleander hawk-moth larvae are ...

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What exactly are computers used for in DNA sequencing?
54 votes

Computers are used in several steps of sequencing, from the raw data to finished sequence: Image processing Modern sequencers usually use fluorescent labelling of DNA fragments in solution. The ...

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Can the central dogma work in reverse?
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7 votes

Let’s first consider what the Central Dogma[1] actually says. It is precisely summarised in the following figure[2]: solid arrows represent transfer of information that has been observed directly; ...

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What is the difference between contig- and read-based sequence alignment?
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1 votes

I have never heard the term “contig based alignment”, and your question is the only Google hit of this exact query (apart from a 2012 patent application). That said, and without knowing the exact ...

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Molecules responsible for reading amino acid language
4 votes

Clarifying the premise As mentioned in my comment, the term “amino acid language” doesn’t really make sense as far as I’m concerned. Worse: nothing, to my knowledge, is ever reading an amino acid ...

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Does the brain always think of an appropriate response when reacting to a stimulus?
3 votes

No: Optical illusions trick your brain and elicit an inappropriate response. Of course optical illusions don’t need to be engineered, they abound in reality (remember The Dress that went viral two ...

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Why is cancer not a communicable disease?
6 votes

Naïvely, there’s no reason why cancers wouldn’t be communicable. Tumours consist of abnormally multiplying cells which have switched off their response to repressive stimuli from other cells, which ...

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What does the human body use oxygen for besides the final electron acceptor in the electron transport chain?
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28 votes

Oxygen is actually highly toxic to cells and organisms – reactive oxygen species cause oxidative stress, essentially cell damage and contributing to cell ageing. A lot of anaerobic organisms have ...

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How do trees manage to grow equally in all directions?
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18 votes

Growth in plants is tightly controlled by auxins – plant hormones. Auxin itself usually has an inhibitory effect on growth [EDIT: see comments and Richard’s answer for correction]. As far as I know ...

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What is the difference between naive and adjusted p-values in a GWAS study?
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18 votes

There’s an XKCD comic which explains the problem. Unfortunately, that comic is too big to post here. Briefly, a p-value of 0.1 says (roughly) that there’s a 10% chance (0.1) of the observed result ...

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Why, specifically, does each generation, on average, improve upon the design of the species rather than degrade it?
9 votes

I’ll add a slightly different perspective, although terdon’s answer already contains the relevant facts. The thing that makes DNA endure in the face of imperfect copying is that, like computer ...

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determining genome-wide exogenous binding of pathogens to host genome?
9 votes

The techniques used to do this are ChIP-seq and ChIP-chip. Basically, you let the pathogen bind to the (highly replicated) DNA cut up the DNA into little random pieces by sonication enrich (“pull ...

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Human evolution: Where *exactly* did the first human come from, whose parents were not?
36 votes

but I get lost on the 'border' cases. Not surprisingly, since there are no borders, and this is probably the greatest misunderstanding: Evolution is gradual. It’s not generally possible to say where ...

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How to map the Gene name to its Gene Symbol?
0 votes

Just use a genome database such as Ensembl. Paste your gene name into the search box and hit “Go”. The first hit in the result list is what you’re searching for.

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Are there any substance that are more dangerous at low dose than at higher dose?
5 votes

No. The influence of dose–response relationship on toxicity is one of the fundamental properties of (bio)chemistry, and follows directly from the fact that concentration influences the reaction rate: ...

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Does DNA contain information beyond protein synthesis?
11 votes

What a timely question. Does DNA contain information beyond protein synthesis? Yes. In fact, protein-coding genes only constitute a tiny part – less than 2% – of the whole DNA. There are of course ...

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Is DNA mutation locally energetically stabilizing the DNA molecule
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3 votes

a spontaneous mutation (seen as a chemical transformation) should lower the energy of the system Why do you think that? Because it’s an endothermic reaction? Consider that mutations don’t happen “...

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Robotic surgery for treating cancer?
5 votes

We can manufacture materials thin and hard enough to penetrate the body without harming it. It’s not a question of materials. After all, we have the materials to build flying cars – so why are there ...

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What is the Edward O. Wilson fuss about?
3 votes

So what is the fuss about? The fuss isn’t so much about biology as it is about the circumstances of the argument. in particular, I gather that there are two complaints people have with E. O. Wilson’s ...

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What is an organism?
3 votes

I think the definition in Wikipedia is simply bad because it depends on another debatable definition. I prefer something which follows from an observation made by Ricard Dawkins in The Extended ...

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What would need to be discovered to prove there is extraterrestrial life?
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6 votes

Curiosity is on the Martian surface and is equipped with a slew of laboratory equipment. But not, incidentally, equipment to detect life. What would Curiosity need to discover to prove there is or ...

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What is the biological mechanism linking temperature and probability to be infected with a virus?
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6 votes

It is common knowledge that when you're cold you could get a cold. This may be a nice illustration why we need to be wary of “common knowledge”. What is the mechanism linking temperature and viral ...

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Introductory books about evolution
7 votes

Another book by Dawkins which I find quite excellent is The Greatest Show on Earth. Unfortunately, you might find it a bit preachy in episodes since Dawkins gets – rightfully! – exasperated with some ...

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Sequencing from PCR
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9 votes

All sequencing methods, be it classical Sanger sequencing or next-generation sequencing (or even third generation) need a certain amount of DNA to work with. You either need to extract DNA from a ...

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Is there a consensus on whether or not race exists on a biological level?
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7 votes

This has been investigated extensively on skeptics.stackexchange.com. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to determine a scientific consensus since nobody has cited a relevant survey. On the other hand, ...

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Is it plausible that eukaryotic organelles like flagella and cilia are the result of endosymbiosis with spirochetes?
3 votes

Well, since all cells in a multi-cellular organism originally come from the same precursor cells, it’s hard to argue that some of them have endosymbiotic compartments that are missing in others, and ...

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Did animals evolve from plants?
10 votes

No. Animals form the kingdom Animalia (or Metazoa) which is distinct from the Plantae kingdom. Both evolved independently from single-celled eukaryotes. In fact, animals are more closely related to ...

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How many genes do we share with our mother?
25 votes

In addition to the other answers, let me show you a logical error in your reasoning: Don't we share 50% of our genes with our mother and 50% with our father? You get 50% of our genes from each ...

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Relationship between our microbiome and personalized nutrition
11 votes

does the microbiome affect food metabolism? Most definitely (and not surprisingly). The Arumugam paper [1] notes that The drivers of [enterotype 1] seem to derive energy primarily from carbohydrates ...

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What is the biology behind a skin "mole"?
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8 votes

A mole is simply a benign tumour, i.e. a proliferated cell growth that hasn’t become cancerous. So moles are not dead cells, they are very much alive. The colour is caused by a high concentration of ...

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