Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Nothing is Off-Limits

Every module of 20.109 has challenged us to pose a question to which we do not know the answer, and that uncertainty has made lab very intriguing. However, for me it was really this last module that stretched my imagination. The combination of organic and inorganic substrates was something I had never considered before, and for me it opened up new territory for possible experimentation. It made me think that more might be feasible than I actually thought.

I think that as our knowledge of scientific material increases and we progress through increasingly advanced classes, we start to close off the possibilities. When you’re a child, you know the sky is blue, but you don’t know why. You would accept almost any explanation for the phenomenon, and if someone told you that they could change the color of the sky on demand, you might believe them. However, ten years later, you might know that the color of the sky is due to molecules in the air scattering blue light more than other wavelengths of light, and you would no longer believe a stranger who proposed to change the sky to a fluorescent green color.

Knowledge is fantastic. However, the very act of obtaining knowledge closes off possibilities, and I think sometimes it makes us shoot down ideas that we would have otherwise considered more seriously. In the same way that more discussion around a subject often makes us more opinionated and therefore more closed-minded, more knowledge allows us to identify patterns and establish a norm. Sometimes creativity means abandoning that norm.

This is what I love about bioengineering – it allows you to tinker with anything and everything. Practically nothing is off limits, and if nothing exists that does what you want it to do, you can try to create it. I suppose this module was a reminder of that.

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