See, here’s the thing.
The Human Genome Project is without doubt one of the most ambitious, important, and just plain brilliant ideas put forth by the science establishment ever. The guys over at the American Society for Microbiology explain why better than I can:
With the help of new techniques and powerful computers, scientists
have finally pieced together in order the entire human genome. This
means that they have strung together in the correct order all three
billion (that’s 3,000,000,000) or so biochemical rungs of our spiral
ladder-shaped DNA molecule. What we now have is the entire book of life
for making a human being.
This is a hugely big deal!
Why? Well, much of what happens in our bodies is the result of
molecules called proteins doing their thing. And proteins are made from
recipes called genes that are contained in our DNA. (The sum total of
all the genes in a living creature is called its genome <gee-nome>.)
By having all the genes spelled out in the right order, researchers
will now have an easier time figuring out which genes make what
proteins. This in turn will help in figuring out which genes are
responsible for or have an affect on different diseases when they get
messed up. That may lead to better ways of tackling some diseases.
Also, knowing the human genome sequence may help scientists figure out
just what makes humans "human."
Which makes it all the more interesting when I read something like this in what appears to be a rather (ahem) different conclusion:
Scientists Find Extraterrestrial Genes in Human DNA
It looks like a real article. It feels like a real article. And it goes a few places I just do not want to follow for purely emotional reasons, one of which being that for the past 20 years, I’ve been making enormous fun of people who swore we were bred from aliens. I can’t find any other source for this discovery, however that doesn’t mean it’s not real, just that there have been no responses to it yet.
If it turns out to be true, I’ll apologize to the people I made fun of. And wonder if our DNA was in fact crafted by some unknown (and perhaps unknowable) intelligence somewhere in the universe I’d like them to explain why they did such a crappy job of it. I mean come on, we can’t hear, we can barely see, we can’t smell anything. We’re amazingly vulnerable to viruses and bacteria of every size and description, and worst of all, we are prone to malfunctioning outside of a very narrow range of temperatures and atmospheric content. Not exactly Timex watches, are we? The only reason we’re still here as a species is because there are so darned many of us–it takes a lot more to wipe out 6.7 billion people than it does 500 million, and there are times during past ice ages where there were decidedly fewer than 500 million human around.
Oh well. I’m waiting to see what kind of response this announcement induces. There may not be one. I hope there is, though, because if it’s true then this is a Very Big Deal. We shall see.
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