Monday, April 11, 2011

DNA and Future Memory – part 2

DNA - Universal Intelligence Transmitter
From our current understanding, the functional basic unit of all life within universe is comprised of individual cells. The nucleus of each cell contains all the information necessary to create an exact replica of each form of life. This chemically encoded information is stored in a vast yet tiny archive known as DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA is composed of chromosomes and genes that carry the blueprint or codes for every specific life form.

The classic depiction of DNA is the double helix, or two incredibly long intertwining molecules or polymer strands, composed of literally millions of bits of informational units (nucleotides). DNA is an amazingly stable archive that duplicates and transmits its blueprint in a transcription process from cell to cell, thereby procreating each life form on a cellular level. This process is identical for all life on earth, as well as (we presume) all life throughout universe.

This vast archive of information is passed along through a replicating process that involves the copying and encoding of genetic information from DNA to RNA (Ribonucleic acid).

The original DNA that is housed within the nucleus of a given cell programs instructions for the production of enzymes and proteins. These DNA instructions are not directly converted into proteins, but are copied into RNA. The DNA strand opens and allows RNA polymerase to transcribe only a single strand of DNA into a single stranded RNA polymer called messenger RNA. The messenger RNA carries the information to the sites of protein synthesis (ribosome), thereby creating a replica of the original DNA. This ensures that the information contained in the DNA does not become corrupted, thus preserving the archive.

Molecular biologists have identified large sections of the DNA strand that appears to serve no current purpose. The technical term that scientists use to refer to this dormant DNA is “junk”. It is not, however, junk or worthless filler. Given the miraculous complexity of this cellular archive, it seems highly unlikely that these sections of DNA serve no purpose. An intriguing theory for the purpose of the apparently dormant segments of the DNA archive is that these segments are not dormant, but act as tiny transmitters and receivers of cumulative knowledge.

The Web of Life
Throughout time, thinkers from a variety of different disciplines have put forth theories that propose an interconnectedness of all life. Anthropologist Jeremy Narby, author of The Cosmic Serpent - DNA & the Origins of Knowledge, suggests that this interconnected intelligence is contained within the DNA.

Intelligence comes from the Latin inter-legere, to choose between. There seems to be a capacity to make choices operating inside each cell in our body, down to the level of individual proteins and enzymes. DNA itself is a kind of "text" that functions through a coding system called "genetic code," which is strikingly similar to codes used by human beings. Some enzymes edit the RNA transcript of the DNA text and add new letters to it; any error made during this editing can be fatal to the entire organism; so these enzymes are consistently making the right choices; if they don't, something often goes wrong leading to cancer and other diseases.

Cells send one another signals, in the form of proteins and molecules. These signals mean: divide, or don't divide, move, or don't move, kill yourself, or stay alive. Any one cell is listening to hundreds of signals at the same time, and has to integrate them and decide what to do.

Some biologists describe DNA as an "ancient high biotechnology, containing "over a hundred trillion times as much information by volume as our most sophisticated information storage devices." Could one still speak of technology in these circumstances? Yes, because there is no other word to qualify this duplicable, information-storing molecule. DNA is only ten atoms wide and as such constitutes a sort of ultimate technology: It is organic and so miniturized that it approaches the limits of material existence.

How this intelligence operates is the question.

DNA is a single molecule with a double helix structure; it is two complementary versions of the same "text" wrapped around each other; this allows it to unwind and make copies of itself… twins! This twinning mechanism is at the heart of life since it began. Without it, one cell could not become two, and life would not exist. And, from one generation to the next, the DNA text can also be modified, so it allows both constancy and transformation. This means that beings can be the same and not the same.

One of the mysteries is what drives the changes in the DNA text in evolution. DNA has apparently been around for billions of years in its current form in virtually all forms of life. The old theory—random accumulation of errors combined with natural selection—does not fully explain the data currently generated by genome sequencing. The question is wide open.

All cells of all living things share this DNA system and communicate on a cellular level in exactly the same way. Individual species differ only in the sequencing of the genetic code within this common system. In terms of cellular reproduction, this system has worked flawlessly and identically for all living things for as long as life has been on Earth. Assuming that DNA is the blueprint/mechanism for all life in Universe, it is not a great intellectual stretch to consider that the segments of DNA, the function of which is not currently understood by science, may indeed be associated with a cellular information networking system. Is it not possible that this system, working universally in all life, possesses the ability to pass information from one life-form to another... from one species to another? Does it not make sense that this cumulative information would be accessible to ensure a successful future (evolution) for all species within the system (bio-sphere)?
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