I once came across a beautiful diagram in Science* showing the metabolic pathways of one of the smallest bacteria, Mycoplasma pneumoniae. It reminded me of staring at an Apple II schematic when I was less than a decade old. Back then, I knew that the Apple II schematic’s fascinatingly complex mass of lines was a map to the computer in front of me, though I didn’t know quite enough to do anything with that map. But the point was that a map existed, so despite its imposing appearance, it gave me hope that I could unravel such complexities. Biological “schematics” like the one on the next page give me the same hope.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae’s metabolic pathway
The Apple II schematic from my wall
The M. pneumoniae diagram ...