So the other day I was standing inside of a 4-story pneumatic pipe organ while it was being played thinking to myself: "Holy crap I'm inside of a 4-story pneumatic pipe organ while it is being played!" when it occurred to me that maybe I might actually know something. For a while I've been feeling like I have spent so much time and effort learning about molecular biology that I no longer know anything actually useful outside of the laboratory. This feeling was jade creeping into the awesomeness of science, and I found it best to promptly shake it off like a dog after a bath and go roll around on the floor joyously with all my legs in the air. I mean, sure this science sometimes appears to be nothing more than moving tiny amounts of expensive liquids around while muttering vague incantations about hypotheses and replicability. But what it is, what molecular biology fundamental is, is me dissecting LIFE ITSELF with my MIND!!! I could have all the fancy tools an R01 can buy at my disposal and a hammock above my bench, but those things wouldn't mean crap for meaningful, insightful science if I didn't start by designing an elegant, productive experiment. It's like I'm telekinetic at the molecular level, because I have to imagine the true nature of all these stochastically interacting proteins, genetic elements, or other molecules and their aggregate behavior clearly, I have to fix it in my mind and strip away the limitations of my vision to harness the quiet power of chemical reactions and hydrogen dipoles to prove the accuracy or folly of what I have captured with my mind.
Sure, this science doesn't have the immediate satisfaction of swinging a hammer and building a chair, the delay to sate the fundamental human need to create and explore burns on a longer fuse, but oh, when it connects it is all the more beautiful. I may not be building a pipe organ, but I am reverse-engineering something many more times intricate when I can't even see it with my naked eyes. That. Is. Awesome.
365.135 migraine by Erin on Flickr
20 hours ago