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An alien code in our genes?

Scientists hypothesize that a sign of intelligent extraterrestrials could reside within the human genetic code.

Dr. Vladimir I. shCherbak, a mathematician at the al-Farabi Kazakh National University of Kazakhstan, and Maxim A. Makukov, an astrobiologist at Kazakhstan’s’s Fesenkov Astrophysical Institute, recently published a paper titled “The ‘Wow! signal’ of the terrestrial genetic code” in the planetary science journal Icarus. This title references the famous unidentified radio signal detected by SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) scientists in 1977. But rather than listening for extraterrestrial radio transmissions, these scientists considered the possibility of biological SETI. Seeing that features in the human genetic code defy natural explanation, the team considered the possibility of an intelligent embedded signal in the code. And, as Discovery News explains, the researchers believe “the scheme has much greater longevity and chance of detecting E.T. than a transient extraterrestrial radio transmission.”

The abstract of the paper states:

The genetic code. (Credit: Vladimir I. shCherbak/Maxim A. Makukov/Icarus)
The genetic code. (Credit: Vladimir I. shCherbak/Maxim A. Makukov/Icarus)

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.

These scientists assert that the genetic code appears to have been “invented outside the solar system already several billions years ago.” Discovery News points out that this notion endorses the idea of panspermia–life on Earth was seeded by life that originated elsewhere in the universe.

By exploring the possibilities of biological SETI, these researchers are contemplating the typically religious notion of intelligent design, but from an extraterrestrial scientific standpoint.

Jason McClellan

Jason McClellan is a UFO journalist and the producer/co-host of the web series Spacing Out! He is also the web content manager and staff writer for OpenMinds.tv, and a co-organizer and technical producer of the International UFO Congress. As a founding member of Open Minds, Jason served as a writer and editor for the now defunct Open Minds magazine. He has appeared on Syfy, NatGeo, and, most recently, he co-starred on H2's Hangar 1: The UFO Files. ------ Follow Jason on Twitter @acecentric and subscribe to Jason's updates on Facebook.

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  1. Of course is the answer to the question. How do you think we got here? Still believe a quivering mass of protoplasm crawled out of the swamp one day and decided to be a human for a change? Sill rabbit~

  2. I tend to take a more simplistic view of our structure, physiology and consciousness. Science tends to note discoveries of things already in place within us and defers their origins elsewhere. We are complete, yet unexplored as to the nature and complexity of that completeness in my humble opinion. Noting my experience, which is all I can go on regardless of the volumes of information stored within, it appears that our understanding is a matter of growing awareness of our natural order.

    As we evolve, through asking better questions or the use of new technology that allows us to look deeper at the physicality of life and consciousness, are we really needing to look outside of ourselves to find the keys to living in harmony with each other and the planet? It would seem to me to be naturally embedded in our structure and not necessarily linked to some off-planet origins, although that may also be true.

    Incredulous as it may sound, I’ve had interactions with others (in a variety of realms) that has continually led me back to the observation of greater connectivity within and the capacity for reflection in the world. Our intellectual nature is to perceive through filters, assumed and/or learned, that limit our understanding to seeing things through colored lenses. Maybe if we flipped the question to, “If there was ONE MIND permeating all things, how would that reflect in our experience and observations?” Instead of being obsessed with breaking things down, maybe if we looked at how it creates a holistic picture science would make an evo-leap in discovery.

    What is obvious is that we are experiencing a growth in awareness across a multitude of platforms. Science is finding that our genetic makeup isn’t full of ‘junk DNA’ and that we’re truly just beginning to scratch the surface of how we fit together cosmologically and psycho-spiritually in the material world. Maybe, and I truly hope this is the case, this will lead us enmasse to a better understanding of how to work in harmony toward an experience that reflects the same – where people and planet function as one. Time will tell.

    Thanks for a great article.

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