The Evolving Passion

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The sweat trickling down my neck felt like the stickiness of a dinosaur's breath. My muscles tightened as author Michael Crichton revealed the extent of scientific advancement in today's world. The pages of Jurassic Park turned quickly in my hands. A young reader, I had picked up this book at age thirteen, expecting to be regaled by wildly imagined dinosaur tales. Instead, Jurassic Park offered a revelation on the biology of life with chapters on DNA, cloning, and the making of dinosaurs.

Life became more comprehensible in my thirteen-year-old mind. From Jurassic Park, I learned that each organism consists of genes entwined in strands of material called DNA. At a time when Dolly the Sheep was old news and genetically-engineered salmon were cost-effective, I knew that humans were becoming closer to understanding life on a molecular level. We nearly had all the How's -- the mechanics -- of life answered. But the Why's were still missing. Why does life exist as it is?

In search of the answers to this question, I took the biology courses offered at my middle school. However, every time a class embarked on the genetics unit, I found myself staring at the same image of Watson and Crick and their DNA model. It...

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