Nov 11, 2011

It's sad to know I'll never be a scientist,

getting to study the stars, huge, beautiful, thousands of light years away - or the tiniest of cells, where life is being formed, how they magically divide to multiply, life exposed and raw.

I've always been really fascinated by astronomy; I remember being nine and playing with that NASA space shuttle model we had at home, complete with seats and tiny astronauts, watching documentaries about space exploration and lift-offs and imagining myself being one of the people in that dark room with countless computers, all working frantically to make sure everything was working fine. Being an astronomer was a cool dream, until I got to secondary school and realised math and physics were the two things I couldn't do to save my life.

Biology was something I loved throughout my schooling life. My primary school held a life sciences workshop where I got to cut up a squid with a partner (Zu Hui or Evelyn?) - and we found a fish inside its stomach! Tried to dissect that too but it was too...digested. We also cracked open eggs that had chicks inside them and were about to hatch. Felt quite sad that we were wasting the life of a cute chick just like that. You could see something in the cup of blood move -that was its heartbeat. And the teacher dissected a frog - I remember the intestines and the liver and the heart, all of different colours. And its heartbeat began to slow down. In secondary school we had a sheep's heart and my teacher was encouraging us to put our fingers down the four blood vessels to see where they'd end up.

I remember looking into a microscope at plant cells in one of the first few lessons in Sec 3. This was what we had been drawing in diagrams, finally coming to life. I remember the green chloroplasts moving around in the cytoplasm, busily busily, like there was somewhere to rush to, something to do. It was fascinating.

Schools kill biology when it becomes dead, diagrams and mega-long terms, black ink on white paper. Biology is the study of life. I really wanted to do it in JC but replaced it with Math/Econs instead. Oh why. Why.

Science fascinates me. Biology fascinates me. You're working with life. Living things, crawling on your skin or inside you or just beginning to form. It's this miracle you see every day. From plants to viruses to your average human, we're all these crazy wired-up bodies of tiny stuff that, by the grace of God, continue to function perfectly despite its intricacies day after day. And we're all linked by a common instinct: to survive.


The whole ecosystem, or the whole world with its billions of life-forms and how everything is so intricately linked, is just amazing. A wonderful creation and a web of chains we'll never fully understand - because we're also destroying it.

It's too bad I wasn't really made for math, and therefore, science. I'll never get to work with amazing faraway bodies of unimaginable mass and power, or tiny things in your blood that, just like us, are alive. I'll never get to study the behaviour of penguins or the emotions of elephants. Discovery Channel documentaries will be the closest I'll ever get to the beauty of life and the wonder of things beyond. My mum did Bio and Chem in university and once worked in Science Park II, where she worked with chemicals "like a real scientist"; my dad's a really devoted Physics teacher. Sometimes I wish I could work with the life sciences and just... marvel at the way we do all we can to survive, marvel at how animals feel, too - we really aren't that different, are we?

"A 3 year old leopard cuddles a baby baboon whose mother she has just killed."

The study of life.

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