If you haven’t been paying attention, maybe now you should. Sure you heard the stories about the pyramids being of other worldly origin, existing in similar configurations continents apart. And about Roswell, New Mexico and maybe you even caught the recent news flash about a cosmonaut that has harvested a bacteria with no earthly relative from the surface of the international space station. All told these are speculations worth further investigation but if you’ve really been hip you have heard of the research in La Jolla, California that is toying with alien life in a way that might wipe out the entire planet, like tomorrow!
Life’s blueprint, DNA, that is, life’s blueprint for everything that we know of is made of a double helix structure comprised of phosphate and sugar strands connected by four discrete nitrogenous bases; adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. All life, from cysts, to shrimp to megafauna is based upon, designed by, the way those four little substances connect in what order, and there is a whole shipload of ways they can connect, and order. More even than a supercomputer can keep track of. And there are millions of scientists tweaking those DNA recipes 24-7-365 in labs all over, and above, the globe. They are making new kinds of corn, blue eyed sheep, apples that don’t brown, kangaroos without pouches, germs to kill diseases, sexless mosquitoes, algae that brews diesel fuel and one lab is working on an organism it believes can grow electronic devices as sophisticated as a modern cell phone. (That may not be far fetched, all living organisms gather nutrients from their environment and arrange them according to their DNA blueprint, cell phones are mostly silica, carbon, some metals and alkali salts.) All these scientists are messing with those four little items in ways we never thought possible to create whole new varieties of the life we know. But all that is nothing, compared to what’s going on in a former surfing village in southern California.
Nope, in La Jolla they are toying with something that makes Dolly the duplicate sheep look like Lincoln Logs, tensegrity look like strings and sticks, Moby Dick like One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish, a human ear on a mouse like kindergarten Play Dough. In La Jolla Scripps Research Institute chemist Floyd Romesberg, who heads up the project has added two new bases to DNA’s gang of four, opening another brand new scientific Pandora’s box, one of an unnatural origin. As of now, in carefully controlled lab conditions, ahem, the only thing these tinkerers have created is, ahem, a little e-coli bacterium that glows green in ultraviolet light. What harm could come of that, a little e-coli glowing in the dark? The real question, one the labcoats are sure to brush off with positive and encouraging rebuffs is, “What now, Green cow?”.
When all life was made from four little parts, and even that had limitless possibilities, again the lab grown cell phone organized from earthly substances like sea water and sand make a coral reef pearls and electric eels, what now that there are six little parts???? That have never existed anywhere in a coherent form as far as we know. What if they can play with eight? What haps when they have more balls in the air, balls of an unknown composition, balls that bounce in ways balls shouldn’t, balls that change in unpredictably, living balls, than they can juggle? Dang man, we can’t even control a little Kudzu, think this little Genii is gonna stay happy in its bottle? Will Synthorx Inc. make enough money on luminescent bacteria or keep the labcoats busy looking for something more profitable?