Pulling the Puzzles Apart 02: Magic

I looked up the dictionary for this post – oh right, I’ve never closed the dictionary in the past few days.

I would like to interpret this word in a brief illustrated passage.

Science is the magic in my eyes

I am commencing my summer research in the department of chemistry, in my previous words, to pull the puzzles apart.

My mentors and their confused phD students (about me) are investigating an array of modified BODIPY molecules, with which academia have attempted a lot of things – enhancing solar cell efficiency, marking specific biomaterials and catalysing water’s hydrogen production – all of which bear the usual, world-changing potentials.

It lives in the lab. I can touch it and perhaps ingest a little of it and survive. It’s not elusive, but real.

Not magical enough?

As far as I am concerned, BODIPY has a backbone that is a half of a porphyrin, which is the “solar panel” part of chlorophylls, the pigment in plants that ultimately makes us possible.


BodiPy backbone


Porphyrin ring, an electronic beauty


The two major types of chlorophyll

f-stem-1-2A rosella standing (and living) upon some chlorophylls. Naturally, the picture was pretty magical itself – the bird paid us a visit the first day I got my DSLR camera – I have a long way to go to capture magic.

The point today is that, as I am slowly amassing analytical skills, I start to nebulously see why the structure leads to remarkable photochemical activity. In its natural form, or when harnessed and modified by us, the inspired humans, nature’s golden structures make a magical being.

On the same track therefore, I cannot help but marvel at how nature created the pigment in the first place, how the photosynthesis process might have began for the first time.

I would imagine innumerable organic structures were competing in the primordial ocean where metal ions were rich, and all kind of attempts was spontaneously underway. Then came natural selection. Among numerous directed iterations, serendipitous mutations and ultimately, the drama between life and death, complexity and interaction, this particular chemical’s form and function was in a way optimised.

It was perhaps just like that, with vague or undefined motivations, the story of life went on, with its essence benefitting and enabling us 4 billion years later.

Perhaps biochemical evolution is the story. But I would call it magic. The reality is readily magical. Thanks for being here.

via Photo Challenge: Magic

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