THE BLOG

DNA: The Road Of Discovery

05/05/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

I ventured down a road of discovery when only one trail was available. Genetics research at the turn of the 20th century was like the early days of the gold rush, a maddening crowd with simple picks chopping away at the genome. But little did we know the magnitude of her complexity, honed by millions of years of creation. One hundred thousand genes became 30,000. The rule 'one gene, one protein' became obsolete. The stability of gene expression is now but a figment of imagination. Epigenomics* moves in - like a new kid on the block - all eyes turn toward her.

Who is she?

How does she shape our realities - our worldviews - our thoughts and feelings and behavior through the ages?

Can we talk about her when so little is known?

We boasted and argued the Nature-Nurture debate for decades, touting evidence right and left for 'genes causing this' 'genes causing that'. Behavior genetics supplanted Skinnerian behaviorism, putting genetic causation above environment.

Eugenics gave it a bad name and built upon a façade of prejudice; but the striving for power and superiority always tumbles in the Truth of our equality.

DNA structure identified, the genome mapped, tools of discovery abundant, but knowledge fades to a sliver as the Vast Unknown becomes more apparent.

In each discovery - each Aha! moment - an infinite unknown or Mystery arises to again be chipped away bit by bit. Around every corner, there is a new neighborhood.

At times in science, they say there are no more answers to uncover - that all the questions have been asked. Perhaps that is said by those unwilling to look - wanting, no, striving - for an end to the Mystery; unable to deal with the distress she causes.

When her Infinite Nature is realized - touched without striving to 'box her in' - an enthusiasm to chip away at the pieces gives a new generation a chance to know her Beauty.

We see only as far as our mind is willing to look. Fear keeps us on the safe ground of reason - sturdy, predictable, secure. But sometimes we are pushed to its edge by Nature herself:

• Inconsistencies in data tug at us to move just a little bit further
• Intuition blasts Reason out of the water
• A question so Grand it pushes us from the comfort of ignorance

There is nothing more perfect or more glorious than the simple process of Discovery.

*Epigenomics refers to the area of study of gene expression as a function of environment, including the transmission of such information across generations without a change in DNA itself.