Sunday, May 23, 2010

Extraterrestrial DNA

Life on our planet began billions of years ago. (I refuse to apologize to anyone who believes that an anthropomorphic, magical spirit 5000 years ago created all the variety of life I experience.)

Newton’s second law of thermodynamics requires the universe to transverse from high quality energy to low quality energy. Life accomplishes this by taking sunlight and converting it to heat. It has to happen to obey the law. That’s entropy. If you choose to believe in a creative force, entropy works.

On this speck of rock in the unimaginable vastness of the universe, life began as a single, simple cell. That cell reproduced and dissipated energy. It was alive. Simple and elegant.

Every cell on this planet evolved from this Ur cell. The information contained in this first cell passed to every cell thereafter. RNA and DNA provided the framework for the information that evolved. The question you must ask: how do I know there was a single cell that started it all.

DNA, as you know, makes a code based on a ribonucleic acid chain. A G C T; four simple molecules that combine to create the famous double helix.  Three pairings of these complimentary molecules combine with complimentary RNA molecules and pass the code. RNA’s job is to take that three letter code and attach an amino acid in a chain. Viola’, a protein is formed.

Here’s the catch. Those three letters carried by RNA always translate to the exact same amino acid in the chain.  Every time, in every cell. The translation table is universal, unaltered, and present in every cell on this planet. It has been the same translation table from the first Ur cell.
Jake’s issue in Kelly’s Reef is that he has found DNA that doesn’t translate properly. The virus contained in his “blue globes” uses a different translation table and creates abnormal, defective proteins.

Since all DNA/RNA uses the exact same translation table for life, as we know it on this planet, Jake has found proof of extraterrestrial reproduction. This is the basis for the science fiction in this science thriller.

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