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.
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.
- The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
- Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
- Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.
- Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
- Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
- It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.
- Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
- The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
- The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.