In their first days of life, barnacle goslings are forced to jump from a 400 foot cliff. Their parents build their nests high up to avoid their offspring being eaten by predators and then leave the goslings to find their own way down the cliff to their parents, or starve. At this stage, the barnacle goslings can’t fly yet, so their only choice is to jump, bouncing on their way down. This is one of their first actions in their lives. Yet here I am, stressing over something as simple as writing a first blog post.
For most of us, starting out on something new is terrifying. The barnacle goslings have never seen anything but the cliff face – they don’t know what could be down there; they only know that it’s where they need to go. At the end of the day, that’s why I’m writing this. There are creatures at the bottom of the ocean that we know nothing about. There are planets made up mostly of diamonds (we think). Only 1% of our DNA is different from a chimp and yet each individual human being on this planet (with the exception of identical twins) is genetically unique. Unlike Tinchy Stryder on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here on Sunday (who told the audience while in the jungle: “I’m not a fan of nature”), I love nature.
I’m not writing because I’m any kind of world expert on any of these topics. I’m writing this from the point of view of an undergraduate biochemist who just wants to learn more about the world and where I fit in, to tell you what I find interesting and most importantly why we should care what scientists are doing right now, and how it affects every one of us. We don’t know what’s out there, or even how our bodies work or why we act the way we do. Science is all about asking questions, and exploring their answers. It’s about what we don’t know, not about knowing everything. And as someone who is so very far from knowing everything, this is incredibly reassuring.