Hiding things usually requires some use of clever intellect. Premeditated hiding. The kind of hiding you did when you were a child playing Hide-and-Seek isn’t so far different from hiding your valuables behind a loose brick in the fireplace. When you try to keep something from being discovered, don’t you put yourself in the perspective of someone who might be looking for that thing? When you’re hiding yourself, don’t you think, “Where could I go where they wouldn’t expect me to be?” When you’re hiding valuables, you probably look for locations people wouldn’t normally reach, places people wouldn’t normally search or poke or probe, places they wouldn’t stick their nose.
When trying to divine genetic secrets, shouldn’t we look in all the places we wouldn’t think to look? If they really are secrets, shouldn’t we be seeking like a child, hoping to find a friend in the dark corners, forgotten closets, or behind furniture?
The hideaways of nature are no more easy to define than the hideaways of Providence. Where would you put the genetic pattern with the secret of regrowth? Where would you put the genetic pattern with the secret of rebirth? Where would you put the genetic pattern with the secret of evolutionary advancement? Where would you put it if you were a million times smarter than you are now?
How far would you search for a friend in a playful game? Would you search the same way for some item of value cached away in an old house? Would you search the same way for your inheritance? What lengths would you go to for a glimpse into the future of mankind?
There is a not-so-secret system scientists call CRISPR, which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. It’s a long name which doesn’t mean much if you’re reading it for the first time. In a pinch, it means an easy and inexpensive method of modifying a gene. See? You might not have gotten that meaning from those words, unless someone gave you an assist on the definition. The part of this discovered technology that is fascinating to me is that it was seen in the actions of bacteria. Bacteria were found using the CRISPR system to modify the genetic constitutions of viruses.
This is where all the questions above come in to play. I question myself. I had learned a long time ago that viruses were the rulers. Viruses have long proven strong, resilient, and adaptable. The medical community taught me about the virus “kingdom” in which bacteria were the lesser, weaker forms. In the old, assumed system you could introduce a bacteria into a virus occupied area and the virus would destroy the bacteria to stay resident. Then along comes CRISPR, a method bacteria use to “unzip” or “cut” viruses. Did bacteria learn this behavior? Or has it always existed and we humans didn’t know about it?
My problem with learning this is not that it exists, but that I didn’t question the assumption of absolute rule I learned earlier. Beware the absolutes. We humans get hold of these notions of absolutes and we tend to think we suddenly have super intelligence. Getting stuck on a certain way of thinking is sometimes referred to as narrow-mindedness. Having a bit more flexibility in your thought is known as broad-mindedness. I regret not being a bit more broad-minded. Then I might not have slapped my head so hard when I learned about CRISPR.