The human body consists of just three main elements: oxygen, carbon and hydrogen: a group of atoms which can form an infinite number of substances, from water to plastics. When these billions of separate atoms combine in precise arrangements, they can form beautifully specialised molecules which create a living, sentient organism.
The sheer complexity of my own chemical make-up fascinates me, particularly considering how an entire organism can be reduced to its constituent elements and their interactions, whilst the slightest change to a single molecule can spell disaster. Studying the transcription of DNA into proteins last year intrigued me; the concept that an entire organism can be broken down into a code written in four chemical bases compelled me to read 'Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters'. It was fascinating to learn the devastating effect of CAG repeats on chromosome 4, causing the irreversible Huntington's chorea; this also presented the question of the extent to which our biochemical makeup impacts upon our daily lives, and how much our characteristics and actions can be attributed to our genetics, and how much to external influences. I soon discovered that the more I learned about this topic, the greater my curiosity: I also wanted to understand another piece of the genetic code, mitochondrial DNA.
我自己的化学构成的纯粹复杂性令我着迷，特别是考虑到整个有机体如何可以简化为其组成元素和它们之间的相互作用，而对单个分子的最细微的变化就可能招致灾难。去年，研究 DNA转录成蛋白质的过程让我很感兴趣;整个生物体可以被分解成四个化学碱基的密码的概念迫使我阅读《基因组:23章中的物种自传》。令人着迷的是，了解到第4染色体上的 CAG重复序列造成不可逆转的亨廷顿舞蹈症的破坏性影响;这也提出了我们的生化构造对我们日常生活的影响有多大，我们的特征和行为在多大程度上可归因于我们的遗传，以及有多大程度上受外部影响的问题。我很快发现，我对这个话题了解得越多，我的好奇心就越强:我也想了解另一段遗传密码，线粒体 DNA。
Brian Sykes' 'The Seven Daughters of Eve' proved an illuminating read, detailing the extent of our ancestry that is discernable from a short segment of this genetic loop. I have followed this with works by other authors, such as Richard Dawkins and Steve Jones, and I am a regular reader of New Scientist. My views of life itself, and the criteria by which it can be defined, were challenged when I attended Lewis Dartnell's lecture and planetarium show on astrobiology; it was fascinating to consider how life could be defined, and how this might affect our recognition of extra terrestrial life. It was also thrilling to consider where, within our own solar system, alien life might be found, given the conditions which some terrestrial extremophiles are known to survive. In addition to this, I attended the Royal Society's Summer Science Festival and Cafe Scientifique discussion session, and other lectures held by the Royal Society and the Natural History Museum. I was selected to represent my school at the 2010 Student Summit on biodiversity at the Natural History Museum. Hearing leading scientists discuss some of the current problems facing the world, such as global warming, the value of biodiversity and the impact of genetic modification of food crops was an enlightening experience.
The debates which concluded each day's talks were also thoroughly enjoyable: I am a long-standing member of my school's debating team, which has given me the opportunity to participate in both the English Speaking Union's Mace competition and the Student Parliament at the House of Commons. Additionally, I took part in the UK Mathematics Trust Senior Team Challenge. This encouraged lateral thinking and an inventive attitude to problem solving; this year I am participating in the National Cipher Challenge, which will develop these skills further. Furthermore, undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh's Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards has tested my endurance and team work. As part of these awards, I have volunteered with Oxfam and been an active participant in my school's Amnesty International society. This interest in global issues in part led to my appointment as Senior Prefect responsible for charities in school, in which capacity I have assisted with running a talent show fundraising for the Disasters Emergency Committee, and with many other events such as the induction week for new students. I have only just begun to uncover the secrets of biochemistry, yet already it fascinates me.
My unrelenting curiosity compels me to understand the full complexity of the subject; my determination and dedication will enable me to do so.