Chemistry

Chapter 133
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Chapter 133

    Beautiful Genius(7)

    The final week in the pharmaceutical and bio center department.

    Monday morning began in the protein culture room.

    As the beep echoed, Jeong-woo woke up with a yawn. Then, he turned his gaze to the cell culture dishes containing the peculiar factors he had been examining for the past two weeks.

    Jelly-like transparent protein clusters.

    Jeong-woo picked up a dish labeled ‘KBN-22’ and concentrated on the molecular world.

    As a vast universe composed of neural networks within the brain emerged entirely before his eyes, the laboratory transformed into a new space entwined with complex ion channels and synapses.

    Jeong-woo freely surveyed the surroundings and fixed his gaze on the area where nerve cells were dancing. It was the place that had the greatest impact on Kim Bona’s cognitive abilities.

    ‘Between the area of the brain associated with language and the perception area, there’s quite an active movement of free electrons related to language. However, the transmission of nerve impulses in response to external stimuli has slowed down relatively. So, there’s desire, but could it be that emotional judgment is immature?’

    He recorded what he saw directly onto his laptop for further analysis.

    He witnessed information related to exceptional observation skills in the dish where Yoon Cho-won’s ‘D4DR-11’ was cultured.

    While the ability to form concepts and instantaneous cognitive abilities were outstanding, the neural circuits needed for expressing them in language were very delicate and weak.

    ‘Bona’s strengths and weaknesses are clear.’

    The influence of Seo Jung-gu’s peculiar factor ‘SJG-8’ was much more complex. While a high level of intelligence was evident, it was difficult to make accurate judgments because it was intertwined with various neural circuits.

    Notable neural connections indicative of tendencies toward criminal impulses, sensitivity, or susceptibility to addiction were apparent, but there were also neural pathways exhibiting characteristics of calmness, introversion, and creativity typical of an artist.

    ‘It seems like the analysis of thought processes isn’t accurate.’

    After working in the molecular world for a while, Jeong-woo closed his eyes tightly and then opened them.

    “Ah, dizzy.”

    The aftereffects of exiting virtual reality came over him. Even though such technology hadn’t yet become widespread, Jeong-woo could experience that feeling very vividly.

    He composed an email to Professor Lee Sang-joong to summarize the follow-up analysis and sent it.

    […I heard that Seo Jung-gu has a younger sibling. I would like to meet this person as well. Could you please provide me with their contact information?]

    Two days later, at the AN Hospital Genetics Center.

    Kim Bona lay in front of the MRI machine and spoke through the connected microphone.

    -I looked at the statistical analysis data. People with particularly higher IQs are more likely to experience undesirable symptoms like depression or delusions. Am I one of them?

    Jeong-woo, who was watching Kim Bona from the monitoring room, swallowed a groan at her words. Then, he turned to Professor Lee Sang-joong, who was sitting beside him, and asked.

    “What was Bona’s IQ measurement?”

    “By the standards for under 10 years old, it was 183. By adult standards, it was 150. It was a Mensa top-tier membership level.”

    “Wow, that’s high.”

    Jeong-woo pondered how to respond, then glanced at the genetic center doctors who were observing from behind for help.

    However, the doctors, who had been harshly criticized before, only sent apologetic glances.

    Pressing the microphone button, Jeong-woo said.

    “Let me take a quick look.”

    In response to the unexpected question from the 6-year-old, Jeong-woo began to quickly search through genetic information.

    Kim Jeong-hwan, who had been accompanying her as her guardian, standing beside his niece, suddenly looked bewildered.

    -So, you think you have depression? Always saying things to uncle that you can’t say to others. You’re not that delicate. You have a steel mentality.

    -It could develop as you grow.

    -Do you know what depression is?

    -Crying and laughing when uncle fails an interview. That’s an early symptom of depression.

    As usual, Jeong-hwan’s sighs, pushed aside by his niece’s logic, could be heard even in the monitoring room.

    Some doctors covered their mouths and chuckled, but Jeong-woo couldn’t help feeling sorry. Then, his gaze fell on a certain chromosome.

    “Bona.”

    -Yeah?

    “I see a mutation on chromosome 6, ‘IGF2R’. This is a common phenomenon seen in people with an IQ of 160 or higher.”

    -So, does that mean I’ll become strange?

    “No. This is called a smart gene. In my view, it seems to signify someone with a great curiosity about the world. All the associated parts seem to act in that way.”

    As Jeong-woo finished addressing Bona’s curiosity, he exhaled silently.

    “Now let’s proceed with the examination. It’ll be over soon. Can you do that?”

    As the device started up and they waited for the scan information to appear on the screen, the doctors in the background conversed quietly.

    “If the active cells that Researcher Han Jeong-woo is looking for are indeed influenced by the peculiar factor, wouldn’t this be a huge deal?”

    “Yeah, it would be. If a paper is published, it’ll cause a stir. What’s with someone who didn’t even have a name in academia conducting research like this at lightning speed?”

    “Didn’t KG Pharmaceuticals set up a backup team just to groom him? Realistically, you can’t be proficient in molecular biology, cell biology, physiology, and neuroscience all at once. He’s only twenty-seven.”

    “I heard from a colleague at the pharmacy center. Instead of trying to analyze a mediocre genius and failing, why not just let Han Jeong-woo analyze him?”

    “Should we really consider that?”

    As the results appeared on the monitor, Jeong-woo, who had been closely examining the brain region, pointed to a certain point.

    “Excuse me, Professor. The nerve cells seem to… Oh. They don’t seem to be moving vigorously, unlike in ordinary people.”

    The doctors at the genetic center quickly turned their heads toward the monitor. Their eyes, confirming the initial success of the peculiar factor research and objective evidence, turned to Jeong-woo.

    1:00 PM, Pharmacy Center Team 5 Room.

    “Other disease factors are at the average level, but you inherited the alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency gene from your mother. It’s benign, so Bona isn’t at risk.”

    After Kim Bona’s follow-up analysis was completed, it was time to explain the research results so far. Kim Jeong-hwan listened to Jeong-woo’s explanation with wide eyes and a puzzled expression.

    “Doctor, can you tell me later about…”

    “Ah, I’ll give you the summarized data before you go.”

    “Phew, thank you.”

    As Kim Bona muttered “fool” from the couch, Kim Jeong-hwan turned his head sharply, starting an eye duel.

    Ring ring.

    Kim Jeong-hwan’s phone in his pocket rang. Looking at the screen, he stood up abruptly.

    “Excuse me, it’s from the place where I had the interview last time.”

    Hurriedly, Kim Jeong-hwan dashed out into the hallway. Kim Bona, with her arms folded, shook her head.

    “Fool.”

    Kim Bona hopped up and down, then climbed onto the chair where Kim Jeong-hwan had been sitting.

    “Teacher, by the way, about the hospital gene I have. Is that okay?”

    “For you, Bona, it is. But if a future spouse you choose has the same gene, then the next generation might be at risk. It’s a genetic disease that manifests when inherited from both sides.”

    “Then my future husband should definitely get tested.”

    “Yes, he should. Can you explain this to your parents?”

    Kim Bona nodded.

    Explaining to oneself rather than to a guardian turned out to be so easy. Jeong-woo couldn’t help but feel amazed by the 6-year-old’s intellectual maturity in this regard.

    “Bona.”

    “Yeah?”

    Thinking of the neural network he had seen a few days ago, Jeong-woo spoke.

    “This is my personal opinion, but I think you should work on being less selfish to satisfy your strong curiosity. That way, you’ll make more friends.”

    “Selfish?”

    Jeong-woo brought out a more direct statement for the genius little girl, who absorbed adult knowledge like a sponge but remained immature in empathizing with others’ emotions.

    “Even if you’re influenced by the peculiar factor, I believe you can do it, Bona. What you’re born with is important, but what you learn later is also important. It’s not just about knowledge.”

    “What am I supposed to do about being born like this?”

    “I’m not saying what you’ve inherited is everything. People have potential, and they have the right to be respected in most cases. Bona, you like your uncle, right?” 𝘧𝘳𝓮𝓮𝓌𝘦𝓫𝓷𝘰𝘷ℯ𝑙.𝓬ℴ𝘮

    After pondering for a while, Kim Bona asked.

    “How do you practice consideration?”

    “It’s a skill of gently unraveling and returning accurate facts. It’s about understanding and respecting the other person’s feelings.”

    Looking around at Jeong-woo, Kim Bona said.

    “So, are you being considerate to me right now?”

    “I guess so.”

    “Then do you like me, Doctor?”

    “Um… I suppose?”

    To an unexpected question, Jeong-woo let out a nervous laugh.

    Thud.

    Kim Jeong-hwan, who had been outside, came back in with a deeply thoughtful expression, causing Jeong-woo to pause their conversation, wondering what was going on.

    “Doctor Han Jeong-woo, could I ask you for a favor?”

    “What favor?”

    “I was supposed to watch Bona all day today, but I just got a call saying I have an interview for an additional position at the place where I applied last time. As you know, she’s just… too clever with her words, so I can’t leave her at the usual playroom. It’s not suitable for her.”

    As Kim Jeong-hwan pleaded, Jeong-woo’s gaze shifted to Kim Bona.

    “Uncle, going for an interview?”

    “Huh?”

    “The tiny company where you said it’d be hard work, and that it was good you didn’t get in?”

    “Ha ha. Did I say that?”

    Kim Jeong-hwan mentally prepared himself for another onslaught of his niece’s factual violence. About to say something, Kim Bona glanced at Jeong-woo.

    “Make sure you get in.”

    “Huh?”

    Surprised by his niece’s unexpected encouragement, Kim Jeong-hwan’s eyes widened.

    “Bona, what’s gotten into you? You’re unusually optimistic today?”

    Kim Jeong-hwan, laughing, was then met with Bona’s thoughtful next words.

    “In companies with low wages and tough jobs, bosses often make it mentally difficult for employees. That’s why the turnover rate for new hires leaving within three months is high. So, even if they finish one round of interviews, they often recruit again. But uncle, you’ll be okay.”

    “…Where did you hear that, and why would I be okay?”

    “Dad and I are used to you always being insulted about why you act like that. So, I think you can handle that much.”

    “…”

    Feeling oddly worse despite the comforting words, Kim Jeong-hwan was at a loss for words.

    ‘This isn’t right….’

    Jeong-woo swallowed a sigh and quickly approached the distracted Kim Jeong-hwan, patting him on the back.

    “Mr. Kim Jeong-hwan, go prepare for your interview. Call me afterwards.”

    Turning his head, Jeong-woo glanced at Kim Bona with eyes asking, “How was I?” and quietly clicked his tongue. Where should he start explaining this and how?

    30 minutes later.

    “Bona.”

    Bona’s round eyes turned towards Jeong-woo.

    “Uncle came in with his shoulders slumped. So, what should we do?”

    Bona placed the juice pack on the table and replied.

    “Uncle didn’t get the additional interview, right? It’ll be fine. If he had graduated from a local business school, he should have lowered his expectations, but he picked and chose where to interview. If he understands the subject, there’s still a long way to go. … Like this?”

    “No! The phrase ‘understand the subject’ has a completely negative tone.”

    “Why is knowing the subject negative? Socrates once said…”

    “Forget it! Just do whatever you want!”

    Jeong-woo, who had been listening attentively, burst out, immediately apologizing. Cho Sung-hwan, who had come to visit 5th team room for a moment, finally managed to suppress his laughter and said.

    “Mr. Jeong-woo, from my perspective, this is Bona’s charm.”

    “Charm?”

    “It gives off a Doctor Moon vibe.”

    “Ugh, that’s scary. If she goes to medical school, she’ll save lives with her hands, but with her words, she’ll probably kill several people.”

    Considering the perspective of the other person, Jeong-woo couldn’t help but smile bitterly at Bona’s style of consideration, which threw even stronger factual violence.

    “If I see her today, it’ll probably be the last time. I guess this is as far as I can go.”

    As Jeong-woo muttered disappointedly, Cho Sung-hwan asked him.

    “Where’s senior Boyeong? You’ve been inseparable for weeks.”

    “Shes with Mr. Seo Jeong-gu’s brother. It clashes with Bona’s schedule.”

    “He has a brother too?”

    On a whim, Jeong-woo sent a text to Song Boyeong to ask how things were going.

    Zi-iing.

    A reply came immediately.

    [I think Mr. Jeong-woo should judge for himself, so I’m on my way to the hospital now, would you like to join?]

    ‘Huh?’

    Ding dong.

    After Song Boyeong pressed the elevator button for the 4th floor, she glanced at Seo Jung-gu’s younger brother. When their eyes met, he shyly lowered his head, so Song Boyeong gave him a light smile and looked away.

    “It’s this way.”

    Guiding the brother to the pharmacy center, Song Boyeong opened the door to the 5th team’s research lab and was slightly taken aback. Kim Bona was sitting in a chair, spinning around.

    “Hello, doctor.”

    “Oh, Bona. You haven’t gone home yet? The test was at 1 o’clock.”

    “I have to wait beacuse uncle went to an interview.”

    Song Boyeong turned her gaze to Jeong-woo. Despite spending time with Kim Bona, he didn’t seem to be in such distress.

    “I’m here, senior.”

    “Mr. Jeong-woo, this is Seo Jung-gu’s brother, Seo In-gu.”

    “Hello.”

    After a brief exchange of greetings, Jeong-woo said to Song Boyeong.

    “Please watch over Bona while I talk to In-gu. Don’t get too hurt by what the kid says.”

    “Why are you like this? I’m mentally strong.”

    “Please, just do it. I feel like I’ve created a monster.”

    “What?”

    With a serious expression, Jeong-woo patted her shoulder and disappeared into the internal experimental lab with Seo In-gu.

    Song Boyeong smiled brightly when her eyes met Kim Bona’s.

    “Bona, what were you talking about with Mr. Jeong-woo?”

    “He was teaching me how to be considerate.”

    “Considerate?”

    Song Boyeong’s eyes widened at the unexpected topic.

    “How?”

    Thud.

    Entering the nearly soundproofed laboratory, Jeong-woo gestured for Seo In-gu to take a seat.

    “Please sit here.”

    “Oh, okay…”

    Seo In-gu’s slightly tense appearance resembled his brother’s, but from his eyes to his expression, he gave off a very introverted teenage vibe.

    “I’ll confirm what I vaguely heard from Senior Boyeong. There were delinquent students who bullied you, right? You saw them fighting each other, right?”

    “…Yes.”

    “Were you there with them?”

    Seo In-gu nodded and handed Jeong-woo his phone. Jeong-woo watched the video file with a grimace.

    It was a video of seven high school students staggering drunkenly, engaging in a chaotic brawl.

    “Why…”

    “My brother’s way is a bit like that. It was my birthday that day.”

    “Birthday?”

    Jeong-woo couldn’t close his mouth after listening to the subsequent explanation.

    “My mother used to say that she always wanted to see me smile on my birthday, to my brother. But he took the money he gave me for my birthday. He thought that if he gave me the same amount of money again, I wouldn’t smile. So he called me to that spot. He said this video was his birthday present.”

    It was an incident and action that went two or three steps beyond just hitting those who tormented his younger brother. Jeong-woo couldn’t utter a word as he listened to Seo In-gu’s explanation.

    “And this…”

    Seo In-gu took out two transparent bottles from his pocket.

    “My brother gave me these yesterday. The sister who just came by asked to see them because she thought they were dangerous. He said to spray this one if someone tries to bully me, and drink this one.”

    “Wow.”

    Jeong-woo recognized the contents of the vials and asked.

    “Do you know what this is?”

    “Yes.”

    “So…”

    “No, I didn’t use them. There are a few more of these, but if I use them, my brother gets into trouble.”

    Having delved into the molecular world of hallucinogens, Jeong-woo shook his head inwardly. The half-life was perfectly complemented as he advised. There was enough leeway to avoid legal issues.

    In the end, he hadn’t broken his promise not to use them. He was just foolishly deceived.

    “My brother is not… strange. He has never done anything bad to me while we’ve been living together. He only makes these things for me.”

    Jeong-woo sensed a feeling of understanding and affection from Seo In-gu, who didn’t fear his brother like others did.

    ‘Seo Jung-gu at least cherishes Seo In-gu. Moreover, he knows how to empathize with his younger brother’s feelings. The method may be sinister, but…’

    From the tangled interactions observed in the neural network cultivated from SJG-8, there were electric pulses that felt not numb, but delicate emotions. If this wasn’t a misunderstanding due to lack of information, the direction of the research would change.

    “Please don’t tell Professor Lee about this. He’s currently sponsoring the two of us.”

    As Jeong-woo had heard that Professor Lee was currently sponsoring them, he waved his hand and said.

    “Don’t misunderstand. I just want Seo In-gu’s brother to live well with people and, if there’s any genetic problem, I want it treated. That’s why I’m saying this…”

    Since siblings share similar genes, perhaps Seo Jung-gu’s subsequent analysis would be more accurate.

    When Jeong-woo asked if he could collect genetic samples, Seo In-gu nodded.

    “…And about the experiences I’ve had with my brother. Can you listen a little more?”

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