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. The concept intrigued me. The idea 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 tedious. In college I took up Science with a Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Math combination [It was sort of a package deal, with Biology in it, so...]. Well anyway, that was the first time that I actually learnt about the gene. The entire theory overwhelmed me. The fact that every time I move a muscle, or every time I sit and daydream – that it is all a bunch of molecules in action, was so cool! It was then I realized, that my understanding that nonliving things are made of atoms and molecules while living beings are made up 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 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 known as 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 across my body, right at this very instance, this article could extend into a book with multiple volumes. Every time we cry out in joy or pain, every time we scream out in anger, every time we fall in love, every time we breathe – these 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. Which is why, when you think about it– Life is Beautiful. No?