When I was a kid if anyone were to ask me what my favorite subject was, my answer would have most definitely been ‘Science’. It was probably when I was in the seventh standard that I first developed a fascination to a world beyond visible- atoms and molecules intrigued me. The concept of energy and invisible lines of force fascinated me and the most boring of all sciences was BIOLOGY!
I hated reading about animals I had never seen or how plants make their own food [seriously – what did I care?]; and dissections were so boring. In college I took up Science with a Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Maths combination [It was sort of a package deal, with Biology in it, so..]. Well anyway, that was the first time I learnt about the gene. The entire concept overwhelmed me. The fact that every time I move a muscle, or every time I sit and daydream – it is all a bunch of molecules in action- that was so cool! It was then I realized, that my understanding of nonliving things made of atoms and molecules and living beings made of cells – was so wrong! After this there were no doubts in my mind about which stream I wished to pursue my higher education in. And today even after all these years of learning, it doesn’t cease to amaze me, the fact that “life” with all is complexities is nothing but a collection of molecules working together in perfect harmony to create every beautiful and horrible emotion that we live through.
Molecular Biology is the field of science that “attempts” to study the properties and action of these molecules that are responsible for everything that happens in a living system. For example here I am sitting and typing out these lines on my laptop and what’s actually happening is that a whole bunch of molecules called ACTIN and MYOSIN and a couple of others are causing a sort of a sliding motion in my muscle cells that leads to their contraction and relaxation, thereby allowing me to type. Then there are my nerve cells communicating with one another by shooting chemicals called “neurotransmitters” across their junctions. My eyes are picking up visual signals in the form of light which temporarily alter the structural conformation of a molecule called Rhodopsin among others. This change in structure leads to the generation of an electrical impulse which transmits the information of what I’m seeing to my brain. And, if I were to continue listing the various “chemical reactions” occurring throughout my body right at this very instance, this article could extend into a book with multiple volumes. Every time we cry out of joy or pain, every time we scream out in anger, every time we fall in love, every time we breathe are all nothing but chemical reactions. Isn’t that amazing? Each of us are nothing but a solution of molecules that no engineer can possibly recreate from scratch in a lab. And that is why, when you think about it- LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL!
– Savitha Sekhar