Thursday, December 07, 2006

December 07, 2006 (J3) Valine

Valine - the Nativity (J3)

December 07, 2006

One of the clearest indications to me, a computer scientist, of the superlative designs in our Faith is the extreme degree of interconnectedness between its parts. In graph theory (a field within computer science, shared with mathematics) there is a term: we say a graph is strongly connected when there are at least two paths from any location to another within the graph. This is perhaps just a tech way of saying (as we do in the Creed) that the Church is "one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic".

For example: prayer is "strongly connected". Sooner or later, at Holy Mass we will hear the Gospel where the disciples ask our Lord how to pray - and He teaches them the "Our Father"... but then we also say it later on in that Mass (and in every Mass).

Or, when we are praying the Second Glorious mystery (G2) of the Rosary, meditating on the Ascension: as part of His farewell command, Jesus tells them to baptize all nations "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"... but no doubt we blessed ourselves with those very words as we began our prayers, and will conclude the decade by saying the Glory Be, which again names the Three-In-One.

Here, too, you see, even during our Advent preparations for the Nativity, we spend time pondering the Nativity itself!

And since in considering the Nativity today, we are considering one of the Joyful mysteries, we explore an amino acid with one of the hydrophobic side-chains - Valine.

Valine (abbreviated Val or V)
RNA Codes:
The side chain of Valine is the isopropyl (CH3)2CH- with a total of three carbons and seven hydrogens. Again we see an amino acid for which the third base (the so-called "wobble" base) of the triple, does not matter: as long as the first is G, and the second is U, Valine will be added next to the growing protein.

Looking too hard at the three and seven here might dazzle us with numerology - for all the useful harmonies and memory tricks one can find in such things. It would be easy enough to see the middle carbon as baby Jesus in the crib, the two end carbons as Mary and Joseph, three hydrogens on one side as shepherds, three on the other as the Magi, and the Angel-of-the-Gloria as that middle hydrogen. But that's just shadows.

Let us not push too hard on the analogies. Let us see J3's Valine as just a larger form, an extension in kind, of J2's Alanine and a predecessor to J4 and J5 (which we shall consider soon).

No, let us not even bother with the image, whether it be statues or pictures, or words, even those as touching as GKC's: "the hands that had made the sun and stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle".

Rather, let us simply come to the crib as we are right now, sitting at our computers, and think of the God Who came to live with us, as poor as we are, as dirty as we are, as uncaring as we are, as nasty as we are - not to condemn, not even to chide.

Just to love.... and there He is, asleep.

Waiting for us to love Him, even just a little.


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