Sonntag, 14. November 2010

Beauty in Simplicity: Why doing Biology has become a possibly uninteresting Job.

 I like to solve problems.

Most of the times it doesn't even matter to me, where the problems come from, as long as the circumstance surrounding them interest me. I adore those problems in particular where the solutions are obtained by analyzing the evidence and deciphering a general rule/principle/law.

By this statement I mean that if I put in a variable in the law, I get a function as the result, the law describing the cause/mechanism of the action of the variable.

I call this the "Physics" way of doing things. Even if the system is enormously complex ( i.e. it is characterized by a large variety of responses compared to the number of its constituents), as long as theentire repertoire of the responses can be described by a few laws, I can like the system. In short, the responses of the system should not scale linearly or slower with the number of components. They should scale faster. Otherwise the system can not be described usefully by a model. This is so, because modeling is meaningful as long as models are less complex than the system itself.

I have pursued through my life a variety of problems in biological systems:

I have been once an enthusiast of the Protein Folding problem. Then the Neural Network/ Neuropsychology issue, and presently the Membrane Organization problem in cells.

As usual I have been disappointed.

Protein folding, the central-most question in Biology, describing the relation between structure and function, is simply answered by saying that each protein folds just like itself (almost). This means that protein folding can not be generalized.

Neuoropsychology operates due to billions of Neurons forming a network. Each of which affects everything else directly or indirectly (almost). This means that brain function cannot be generalized.

Similarly I learned that lipid and protein sorting on bio-membranes strictly requires presence of thousands of lipids and thousands of endosomal proteins. The mechanism cannot be generalized.

This is bad.

I have found that problems in Biology cannot be solved by the "Physics" way. The number of responses of Biological systems scale Linearly or EVEN SLOWER (sometimes) with the number of components involved, indeed oftentimes the number of responses are LESS than the number of components. Those who can use their brains, will realize that this is a great tragedy. If I give you a thousand different machines and you end up mixing them to give me back a toaster, you have just killed the beauty of possibilities of what could have been.

Since I am looking for something that can be generalized, I need to start thinking now.

Synthetic Biology sounds like a great option to me suddenly. Why? Because in this area, you have the control over the number of components and hardly sufficient knowledge of the laws governing the dynamics in the system, which means that there is a lot of scope for research.

And so, I am going to say goodbye to Biology the first chance I get.

Nice knowing you. But I got to go.

(* This is an Old Post. I am already working in a Synthetic Biology lab.)

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