Who are we?
We all start from a zygote, a single cell with two combined nuclei – one from our mother and one from our father. The zygote is a wrapped up woolen thread which will unravel. And from this piece of string, life will take form.
There are innumerable chances for even the slightest, smallest mistake to make everything go wrong. A single step missed in transcription, a misexpression of a regulatory gene, a lost division, a little stress in our environment and BOOM – all’s gone! But 99% of the time these mistakes are saved because what we are is basically a sophisticated computer machine with so much information stored and written in genetic codes that we have a backup, our little set of Avengers to kick ass for every error that arises. So, as every Biologist knows, nature is doing a pretty good damn job keeping us alive here!
If anything, the more information we get hold of in the life sciences, the more complex the understanding of our existence becomes. After the millennial revolution of whole genome sequencing, a whole system of “omics” was devised to study organisms at different levels. So there goes genomics, for all our genes, transcriptomics, for all the mRNAs produced, proteomics, for all the proteins translated, metabolomics, to explain the complexity of metabolic pathways, and so on…
Until we reach the study of what is for me the most complex; the connectome, which describes all the neural connections that an organism’s brain makes. The mind has been a dark place in the endeavor to decipher organisms, just like black matter is in the endeavor to decipher space. Supposedly, the research that goes into the brain will give answers into nervous system diseases and their cure, the way we think, perception, and emotions. Can it ultimately unmask why we are the way we are?
Maybe not why we are the way we are, but what we are. We are the sum of cultural influences, parenthood, social interactions with peers, the product of an educational system, the assimilation of critical thoughts and unique experiences. And these can be mapped out, colour coded, or even put on the covers of music albums.
But my personality, what is it? It is swayed in a sea of uncertainty, experimentation, and enthusiasm… Much like an ink blot.