LIFE

Round and round we go

Rehdal Opalskin Masin made a noise somewhere between a chuckle and a grunt.

Masin stared at a number on the paper in front of him. And, the number in turn shared its intrigue with him earnestly. It filled his ears with a music sweeter than anything that he had heard in the sixty years of his life. All he could think now was how magnificent the number was. In short he was in love with that number.

As always, he processed it unconsciously, it was a twenty-three digit poem, a prime number — and a Carol prime at that. “How interesting!”, he thought and just as much helpless. This was the number of variables as best he could estimate from the millions of measurements he analyzed and thousands of numbers he had crunched.

The rhymes of the numerical verses smiled at him. The cataloging voyage — he actually liked to think of it more as a crusade, could now be summed up in about as many digits as the number of years of his crusade itself. The cataloging was of the very first stage of life, of embryos — to estimate the number of variables involved in the beginning of life.

He had begun this crusade with embryos of a fruit-fly, a monkey, rat and finally a Homo Sapien; He had to carefully account and catalog every chemical molecule or compound — and the hundreds of environmental factors such associated with each of them. Temperature, pressure and humidity were only the beginning of these factors. Each of these factors were measured to an astronomical precision, not just the particles but the thousands of factors that could be perceived by both human and machine. “Or atleast as astronomical as a mortal perceives”, he reflected. “For all I know the precision could be way off” — but in all fairness Masin didn’t let such ‘unreasonable’ cynicism get to him.

The numbers and probabilities of the many particles constantly played a tug of war in his mind, creating their own Sonets. The quest he had signed on was simple enough — how does life begin ?, “Chemically speaking”. Though this quest of his had over thousands of years of precedent, his approach and ideology had attracted storms of activists and scientific ethicists all over the world. Yet, he managed to prevail narrowly only to be confronted by gales of numbers.

“One thousand and fifty one days”, recalled Masin, had passed since he had first looked upon that number. And there were thousands of rat holes he can down looking for a way to analyze them. He wanted to make sure he got all the rat holes first!