Reflecting on the fourth spatial dimension inevitably takes us to science fiction. Imagine living in a two-dimensional universe, where beings move in only two directions - meaning only left or right, forward or backward, but not up or down. We, as three-dimensional humans, perceive our surroundings in terms of length, width, and height. But what about that fourth dimension that coexists at a right angle with the three we know?
Physics, through Einstein's theory of relativity, and mathematics try to describe this dimension. However, it remains a complex and intangible concept, similar to phenomena we don't fully understand but that some try to exploit to impose their will on others. Sciences, although complex, can be explained in various ways.
For instance, consider the story of a father and son: Upon hearing the news of his upcoming wedding, the father asks the son to apologize. The confused son asks why. The father replies that if he can't apologize without having made a mistake, he isn't ready for marriage.
Just as many assume time is the fourth dimension, I prefer to think of biochemistry as a portal to understanding the human being. Biochemistry provides answers to fundamental questions and has been essential for advancements in medicine, nutrition, archaeology, and criminal justice. It is, in essence, the science of us.
There are people who like to answer questions with more questions. That's where the debate gains other dimensions and becomes complex, but sometimes it's interesting.
If you ask a passionate biochemist, "Why do you love biochemistry?" He might reply:
How does coffee wake us up?
Why does yeast produce alcohol?
Why do I check my phone fifty times a day?
Why am I sleepy?
How do plants not burn under the sun?
Why don't elephants get cancer?
Why do all animals age but bacteria do not?
Why are there so many people walking through the Darien jungle despite its risks?
I love biochemistry because it opens my eyes. You don't only learn unexpected things but also learn to answer questions.
This is how biochemistry helps discover life-saving treatments, improve food supply, and answer questions ranging from archaeology to criminal justice.
This emerging science has already unraveled the pathways and chemical processes in cells that make us who we are. Personalized medicine is made possible thanks to disciplines that biochemistry has integrated, including genomics and metabolomics. Biochemistry can be called the science of us.
The history of biochemistry is full of astonishing discoveries. For example, chemist Friedrich Wöhler, by accidentally creating urea two hundred years ago, showed that chemistry is intimately linked to life. From there, research progressed to the DNA structure, laying the foundation for molecular biology.
While the periodic table has over a hundred elements, biochemistry focuses on a few: carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus. These elements bond thanks to electrons, forming the bases of our existence. It's fascinating to think about how these atoms relate to our daily life and influence our perception of the world.
Indeed, common elements like carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen are present in discarded leaves in a park and everywhere, but they aren't enough to generate a human life. We need two people to create a new life, highlighting the importance of our existence.
The sciences allow us to answer unusual but interesting questions. I invite you to reflect on your own life. You could have taken a different path, but you are here now. Value your existence because, in the end, we all seek answers and meaning in this vast universe.