What if Ancient Space Visitors Left a Message In Your DNA?

Paul Davies suggests we open our minds to where alien messages might be hiding, including in our own DNA.

To Whom It May Concern” begins the classic message in a bottle, written on a slip of paper and cast adrift on the tides to…wherever. The discs NASA set into space aboard Voyagers 1 and 2 are much the same. In each case, the distance to be traversed — and the amount of serendipity required for success — would be as close to infinite as you’d want to get.


A message beamed out from an alien civilization would be just as unlikely to be picked up by our scientists or “listening” devices, says theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist Paul Davies. Really, they odds would be even worse since you’d have to add considerations of time to the equation: The time between when a message was sent and when we received it, and the billions of years during which it might have transmitted, perhaps even passing by us before we were here. Maybe the answer to Fermi Paradox is simple: We haven’t come across evidence of intelligent life out there because it’s just so big, and it’s been that way for a very long time.

Davies says we’ve got to open our minds to other forms of evidence and other ways to look for it. And he’s got a startling suggestion for where an an intergalactic message could possibly be.

I see why Davies is fond of this idea. If math does turn out to be a means of communication, as has long been suggested by real scientists like Davies and Sci-Fi scientists, then DNA would be a great place to hide an equation that says “hi!” He’s half-joking — which of course means he’s also half serious — but, well, why not?

Certainly, while Davies doesn’t explicitly say so, his idea reflects that realization that our hunt so far has gone big, upward and large-scaled as we listen to the vast cosmos, and that we might just as well consider looking in the opposite direction: Down into the tininess of the microscopic, and even quantum, worlds. That bottle, if it exists, could be anywhere.

Car culture and suburban sprawl create rifts in society, claims study

New research links urban planning and political polarization.

Pixabay
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
  • Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
  • People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Flickr / 13winds
Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less