Almost two years ago, I blogged about a story that had made the rounds on the internet. The story concerned an alleged scientist of the human genome project who had conclusively "proven" that so-called "junk DNA" was actually extraterrestrial. Others went on to maintain it actually contained an encoded message. The alleged scientist's name was Dr. Sam Chang, and the story was actually picked up by various alternative media outlets, Art Bell and Jeff Rense among them.
But as I pointed out two years ago, there was a problem: Sam Chang didn't exist:
But the idea of a connection between extraterrestrials and human junk DNA is a meme that won't go away it seems. For example, Scientific American carried this blog a little less than a year ago:
That's not all. One of the regular readers of this site, Mr. Eric U., shared something with me that I simply have to pass along, since it is entirely germane to this meme. It seems that two scientists in the former Soviet republic of Kazakstan, Vladimir I. shCherbak and Maxim A. Makukov, have authored and submitted a paper to the prestigious scientific journal Icarus. The gist of their paper? Not only can one encode messages in DNA, which has a very low noise to signal ratio, but they also argue something else, something truly breathtaking:
"They go on to argue that their detailed analysis that the human genome (map here) displays a thorough precision-type orderliness in the mapping between DNA’s nucleotides and amino acids. “Simple arrangements of the code reveal an ensemble of arithmetical and ideographical patterns of symbolic language.” They say this includes the use of decimal notation, logical transformations, and the use of the abstract symbol of zero. “Accurate and systematic, these underlying patterns appear as a product of precision logic and nontrivial computing,” they assert.
"This interpretation leads them to a farfetched conclusion: that the genetic code, “appears that it was invented outside the solar system already several billions years ago.” This statement endorses the idea of panspermia, the hypothesis that Earth was seeded with interstellar life. It’s certainly a novel and bold approach to galaxy conquest if we imagine this was a deliberate Johnny Appleseed endeavor by super-beings.
"However, there are other possibilities too. I’ve previously written about the far-out notion that the universe we observe was built just for us and exists inside a computer program (with apologies to The Matrix film trilogy). Therefore the idea that some programmer somewhere wrote the genetic code for life in their model universe is consistent with the authors’ suggestions." (See Is An Alien Message Embedded In Our Genetic Code?)
The abstract of their paper for Icarus, tantalizingly entitled "The 'Wow! signal' of the terrestrial genetic code," is even more arresting:
"It has been repeatedly proposed to expand the scope for SETI, and one of the suggested alternatives to radio is the biological media. Genomic DNA is already used on Earth to store non-biological information. Though smaller in capacity, but stronger in noise immunity is the genetic code. The code is a flexible mapping between codons and amino acids, and this flexibility allows modifying the code artificially. But once fixed, the code might stay unchanged over cosmological timescales; in fact, it is the most durable construct known. Therefore it represents an exceptionally reliable storage for an intelligent signature, if that conforms to biological and thermodynamic requirements. As the actual scenario for the origin of terrestrial life is far from being settled, the proposal that it might have been seeded intentionally cannot be ruled out. A statistically strong intelligent-like “signal” in the genetic code is then a testable consequence of such scenario. Here we show that the terrestrial code displays a thorough precision-type orderliness matching the criteria to be considered an informational signal. Simple arrangements of the code reveal an ensemble of arithmetical and ideographical patterns of the same symbolic language. Accurate and systematic, these underlying patterns appear as a product of precision logic and nontrivial computing rather than of stochastic processes (the null hypothesis that they are due to chance coupled with presumable evolutionary pathways is rejected with P-value < 10–13). The patterns display readily recognizable hallmarks of artificiality, among which are the symbol of zero, the privileged decimal syntax and semantical symmetries. Besides, extraction of the signal involves logically straightforward but abstract operations, making the patterns essentially irreducible to natural origin. Plausible ways of embedding the signal into the code and possible interpretation of its content are discussed. Overall, while the code is nearly optimized biologically, its limited capacity is used extremely efficiently to pass non-biological information." (See The “Wow! signal” of the terrestrial genetic code)
This is stunning stuff, but one should urge some caution here: it remains for other scientists to read and digest their paper, and to replicate their results.
If this happens, then, we are in for a possible major paradigm shift, one that could corroborate the speculations of me and others in the alternative research community that indeed there was some sort of "contact" between us and "them" long ago.
All this raises another possibility, one highlighted in my original blogs on the subject: could such inquiries have been conducted for some time covertly? Could such hypothesized covert genetic studies have reached similar conclusions some time before? If so, then as the "Sam Chang" hoax highlights, maybe the original story was a dyeing and testing of the waters...
...maybe, indeed, we are witnessing a "slow release", a "timed disclosure." If that is so, and with all the other transhumanist technologies coming into existence, then we are indeed at a crossroads of human history. Time will tell if this DNA message hypothesis will be accepted. We can expect the usual denunciations, questions, from science. That is as it should be. For the implications - as spelled out in the first quotation above - are enormous. We might indeed be living in a holographic universe of pan spermia, a universe where DNA - human DNA - was uniquely engineered, and that in turn will fire even more investigation by physicists who are looking into the various versions - weak, strong, participatory, and final - of the anthropic principle.
See you on the flip side.