Cells by the Gandall Method


While learning Latin, perhaps one of the most inspiring methods for me has been "Latin by the Dowling Method".

Latin by the Dowling method

The basic idea is contrary to what many think of when learning a language: instead of going through a normal course with vocabulary and such, Dowling promotes rote memorization of all latin grammar, and then for students to read "Lingua Latina" (appropriately called a book of "pedagogical genius").

This struck me as a truly novel method of learning, but quite convincing. I could see why you wouldn't normally use this method - it takes quite some self motivation to just rote memorize stuff, and so most teachers likely have to take alternative routes. However, people have large memorizes, with languages themselves taking thousands and thousands of words, and yet people can still achieve fluency in multiple languages.

What if you could achieve fluency in the language of biology? On a first approximation, there are about ~5843 enzymes with EC numbers. This should absolutely be doable for a single person to do. And so, I've started on it. I want to memorize every single EC number + enzyme. After that, I want to memorize every single chemical and reaction pathway in that set. Finally, I want to memorize the entirety of JCVI-Syn3A (or whatever new minimal organism they have out by the time I end this).

My anki deck for EC numbers

For the EC numbers + enzymes + chemical pathways, I will specifically be using spaced repetition and not any memory palace techniques. My goal is that the pathways and chemicals can be the palace themselves, and to be able to transverse the space without analogy. In the end, I want my subconscious to be able to transverse the network of information and pathways. On the other hand, I will likely attempt to memorize JCVI-Syn3A with a memory palace, since it is a less random access.

Memory palaces

It is quite possible that this technique will be absolutely useless in my pursuit of building cells from scratch. However, the potential of being able to truly understand a living organism and its interaction with the environment entirely is just too juicy for me to resist. And so, I shall be memorizing.

Keoni Gandall

(EDIT/UPDATE 2021-11-19: as it turns out, I need a little bit of better background on biochemistry before I memorize everything, because all enzyme names and such are meaningless to me, so I have a tough time visualizing them. Got Voet n Voet biochem, will be studying that before back onto this)