Journey of the Universe Journal #3

Chapters five and six talk about the emergence of life, and what it means to live and die. I’ve always wanted to know: how did life first begin? We are taught in biology class that living things come from other living things. But if that’s true, where did the first living thing come from? This is similar to asking what came first, the chicken or the egg? Regardless, it is a question that I often ponder. Journey of the Center of the Universe says that it took the first cells two billion years to evolve into more complex cells. That seems like an incredibly long time that the Earth was filled with essentially nothing.

One of the topics that the book discusses is the creativity of nature. This seems applicable because somehow, through random genetic mutations, cells were able to become photosynthetic. Having studied plants in biology, I can say that the process of photosynthesis is very complex. The thought that it got to that point through essentially trial and error is astonishing. All of the single-celled organisms underwent an incomprehensible number of trials to try to adapt accordingly, and it still took them about two billion years to be successful. That is something so complex that it is hard to understand.

The many trials and errors, or genetic alterations, seem to relate well to the trials and errors of my life. When I was younger, I wasn’t sure that I was smart enough to take honors or AP classes. Somehow I got the courage to take a couple honors classes and found that they were not that difficult and that I probably should have gotten in them a lot sooner than when I did. This seems to relate to the trials of genetic mutations in the environment. My mutation proved to be successful, and I am glad that I was able to take that chance.

In chapter six, living and dying is discussed, but not how I initially expected. It talked about how genetic mutations are passed on from generation to generation and that through this pattern genes are able to evolve and change in ways that we are still trying to understand.

I thought that the idea of viewing genes as a type of memory was an accurate way of thinking that I had not previously thought of. When you think about it, genes are a types of immortal instructions because the allow the passing on of blueprints on how to make and run a specific organism as efficiently as previously known. Their uniqueness increases because these blueprints have the ability to be edited, so information may be deleted or added as needed to keep the organism as best adapted to their environment as possible.

Overall this chapter helped to open my eyes about how incredible genes and mutations really are and how they help allow organisms to adapt and evolve to become better fit to their environment. Without this characteristic, organized life may not be possible because organisms would not have the ability to adapt to their changing environments.

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