Unique

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From time to time, I watch television shows about forensics and have become fascinated with the idea of the uniqueness of individuals. While the human race has much in common collectively, each one of the 7.6 billion of us presently on the earth are unique.

I looked up DNA and found the following: DNA is found in nearly all living cells. In short, DNA is a complex molecule that consists of many components, a portion of which is passed from parent organisms to their offspring during the process of reproduction. Although each organism's DNA is unique, all DNA is composed of the same nitrogen-based molecules. I found that so interesting (www.quora.com).

Then I looked up information on fingerprints. The basis of the traditional fingerprinting technique is simple: the skin on the palmar surface of the hands and feet forms ridges, so-called papillary ridges, in patterns that are unique to each individual and which do not change over time. Even identical twins (who share their DNA) do not have identical fingerprints (www.quora.com).

I understand that handwriting is also a unique identifying feature: each person has their own unique style of handwriting, whether it is everyday handwriting or their personal signature. Even identical twins who share appearance and genetics do not have the same handwriting.

These features reminded me of a story about “fists” I ran across in Gladwell’s Blink (2005). The term is used in relationship to Morse code—“dots and dashes, each of which has its own prescribed length.” Gladwell explains that in the Second World War, British interceptors listened to German military radio broadcasts—24/7—and while they could not initially interpret the messages they heard, they could identify the messenger because each one had a distinct cadence. He writes:

“The key thing about fists is that they emerge naturally. Radio operators don’t deliberately try to sound distinctive. They simply end up sounding distinctive, because some part of their personality appears to express itself automatically and unconsciously in the way they work the Morse code keys. The other thing about a fist is that it reveals itself in even the smallest sample of Morse code”—even a few characters reveal an individual’s pattern.

It is amazing to me that while each human being is unique, we—as members of the human race—have many commonalities. I am looking into that, as well, and will write about it in the days ahead.

Andrea