My room is a horror movie for electronics. Strewn across every surface are various resistors, capacitors, wires, screwdrivers, and other electronic parts. I am the mad scientist, the person who rips into every device I can get my hands onto. Unlike the cliche horror villain, I do not torture these poor devices for my own enjoyment; rather, I open them up to uncover the mysteries contained within them. Starting from a young age, and never once losing steam, I have dissembled hundreds of devices, from toys that played music to calculators. With every piece of circuitry that comes apart in my hands, I refine my understanding of the world around me. Perhaps this may explain my dislike of the human sciences. It’s rather difficult, and illegal, to take someone apart to learn how they work.
This obsessive habit is not without its own issues. I remember my parents’ disappointment as their cellphones crumbled apart in their hands. I never really blamed myself, after all, those screws are really small and easy to lose. That’s why I hate the phrase, “they have a few loose screws.” Given the complexity of a human being, I’d be surprised if one didn’t have a few screws loose. Regardless, I shrugged off any of the technological malfunctions of my household as a result of my rampant curiosity. The remote control could wait; it was time for learning.
As I grew, so did my observations. During middle school, I would ask teachers if they had old computers in their classrooms, and if so, if I could take them. Upon receiving various electronics, including a couple iMacs, I would take out my handy screwdriver and begin to dissect the very innermost components of these devices. I would carefully (or in times of annoyance, destructively) use my tools to disassemble each electronic part, meticulously attempting to uncover the secrets it held.
What did I learn?
Often, I learned nothing. A computer is an incredibly complex device, and analyzing it resistor by resistor is a futile endeavor, similar to trying to learn economics by talking with every single person on the workforce. Still, the mysteries called to me. The computer industry is still rapidly evolving with so much potential and uncharted territory. What could I say, I was drawn to it, like a pirate is drawn to the sea. I would go to the library and checkout over a dozen books on computer programming and hardware engineering. Most of the material went way over my head, similarly to my dog when I tried teaching him math. Even with the complexity, I pushed forward in my discoveries.
Not before long, I had created intelligent life.
Well—kinda. Really I had programmed a computer to ask for my name, then to say hi back. From there, I fell into a cycle, one of questioning followed by answering. Although I don’t take apart electronics for fun as much as I used to, I still am always on the search to answer some of life’s biggest questions. Can I create life in my bathtub? Could I make wings that would allow me to fly? Can we prove Murphy’s law? I don’t know yet, but I plan on finding out.