Coffee!! Found: A use for junk DNA?

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Cosmologist Paul Davies suggested, in a recent essay (“Is Anybody Out There?” Wall Street Journal (April 10, 2010), another way of finding space aliens:

Another physical object with enormous longevity is DNA. Our bodies contain some genes that have remained little changed in 100 million years. An alien expedition to Earth might have used biotechnology to assist with mineral processing, agriculture or environmental projects. If they modified the genomes of some terrestrial organisms for this purpose, or created their own micro-organisms from scratch, the legacy of this tampering might endure to this day, hidden in the biological record.

Which leads to an even more radical proposal. Life on Earth stores genetic information in DNA. A lot of DNA seems to be junk, however. If aliens, or their robotic surrogates, long ago wanted to leave us a message, they need not have used radio waves. They could have uploaded the data into the junk DNA of terrestrial organisms. It would be the modern equivalent of a message in a bottle, with the message being encoded digitally in nucleic acid and the bottle being a living, replicating cell. (It is possible—scientists today have successfully implanted messages of as many as 100 words into the genome of bacteria.) A systematic search for gerrymandered genomes would be relatively cheap and simple. Incredibly, a handful of (unsuccessful) computer searches have already been made for the tell-tale signs of an alien greeting.

But what if, as scientists are increasingly finding out, the so-called junk is actually functional?

That would increase the aliens’ difficulty because they would need an existing useful structure to encode “Take me to your leader?” or “We are the voice of Unity”. I wonder how they would do that?

6 Replies to “Coffee!! Found: A use for junk DNA?

  1. 1
    Heinrich says:

    How would the aliens ensure that the message wasn’t degraded by mutation?

  2. 2
    Kyrilluk says:

    I think that what Paul Davies can serve a great deal the design community. The question we should then ask him is How would he go about to detect design in the genes?
    It reminds me of another scientific article, written by a famous scientist who propose the idea that a hidden message from God is hidden in the Microwave Background Cosmological radiation.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    OT new video:

    A Matter of Gravity:
    God, the Universe and Stephen Hawking’
    Professor John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics, University of Oxford

  4. 4
    ECM says:

    This is kinda OT, but would someone point me to a resource that defines how we arrive at the 100 million years old figure noted by Davies?

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    ECM, the hundred million year number is probably derived from the fact there seems to be many genes that are in ancient ‘kinds’ that are also in humans:

    More Questions for Evolutionists – August 2010
    Excerpt: First of all, we have 65% of the gene number of humans in little old sponges—an organism that appears as far back as 635 million years ago, about as old as you can get [except for bacteria]. This kind of demolishes Darwin’s argument about what he called the pre-Silurian (pre-Cambrian). 635 mya predates both the Cambrian AND the Edicarian, which comes before the Cambrian (i.e., the pre-Cambrian) IOW, out of nowhere, 18,000 animal genes. Darwinian gradualism is dealt a death blow here (unless you’re a ‘true believer”!). Here’s a quote: “It means there was an elaborate machinery in place that already had some function. What I want to know now is what were all these genes doing prior to the advent of sponge.” (Charles Marshall, director of the University of California Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley.) I want to know, too!

    this following study really upsets the ‘gene similarity’ school of thought

    Kangaroo genes close to humans
    Excerpt: Australia’s kangaroos are genetically similar to humans,,, “There are a few differences, we have a few more of this, a few less of that, but they are the same genes and a lot of them are in the same order,” ,,,”We thought they’d be completely scrambled, but they’re not. There is great chunks of the human genome which is sitting right there in the kangaroo genome,”

    of course the evolutionist, since all he has is ‘pseudo-similarity’ of bones and genes to work with in the first place, will ignore ‘new genes” that falsify his Darwinian bias:

    Widespread ORFan Genes Challenge Common Descent – Paul Nelson – video with references

    As well, completely contrary to evolutionary thought, these ‘new’ ORFan genes are found to be just as essential as ‘old’ genes for maintaining life:

    Age doesn’t matter: New genes are as essential as ancient ones – December 2010
    Excerpt: “A new gene is as essential as any other gene; the importance of a gene is independent of its age,” said Manyuan Long, PhD, Professor of Ecology & Evolution and senior author of the paper. “New genes are no longer just vinegar, they are now equally likely to be butter and bread. We were shocked.”

    New genes in Drosophila quickly become essential. – December 2010
    Excerpt: The proportion of genes that are essential is similar in every evolutionary age group that we examined. Under constitutive silencing of these young essential genes, lethality was high in the pupal (later) stage and (but was) also found in the larval (early) stages.

  6. 6
    ECM says:

    Thank you for the reply, bornagain77.

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