Mystery Of Our Coded DNA – Who Was The ‘Programmer’?

– One of the biggest mysteries in science deals with our DNA which is a very complex code.

DNA has a unique ‘double helix’ shape, like a twisted ladder and we find this unique genetic code in all living organism. The human genome is made of 3.2 billion bases of DNA, but other organisms have different genome sizes.

DNA is a program, a very precise digital program and this alone raises the question – who was the programmer?

There are three possibilities.

DNA that stands for deoxyribonucleic acid is the “blueprint” of life. DNA was discovered in 1869 by the young Swiss physician Friedrich Miescher who suddenly noticed a substance with unexpected properties while examining proteins in cells. Fredrich Miescher was the first to isolate DNA, but it took many more years before scientists started to understand how DNA worked.

In 1953 James Watson, an American molecular biologist, geneticist and zoologist and Francis Crick , a British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist revealed the structure and properties of DNA, the molecule that carries our genetic information.

What they discovered was that the blueprint for a human being was encapsulated in a long string of nucleic acid, arranged in a double helix, like a twisted rope ladder with three billion rungs. For this discovery Watson and Crick, together with Maurice Wilkins, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962.

But one big question remained unanswered: how is the information in the DNA strand translated to protein?

Genetic information is located in the nucleus of a cell. It is carried from one generation to the next through the linear sequence of nucleotides that make up each of the strands of the DNA helix. These consist of the four nucleotides adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine, abbreviated A, T, C and G. The two DNA strands are paired in a restricted way: G and C can bind only to each other, and the same goes for A and T.

When the information is needed to make a protein, it is first translated to another kind of nucleic acid, called RNA. RNA is composed much like DNA, but it is single-stranded. Also, when the strand of DNA letters is translated to RNA, the T is exchanged for an U (uracil). This RNA is called messenger RNA (or mRNA).

DNA consists of a code language comprising four letters which make up what are known as codons, or words, each three letters long. These four coding units are in the form of the nucleobases: adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C).

DNA is self-replicating. When it splits from top to bottom down the center of the ladder, the bases that are exposed are able to pair up again and reproduce. It’s a truly remarkable digital code, but cracking it took many years and lots of research.

George Gamow, a Ukrainian-American theoretical physicist and cosmologist made a basic contribution to modern genetic theory. In 1954, he founded the “RNA Tie Club.” Its aim was “to solve the riddle of the RNA structure and to understand how it built proteins.” Twenty prominent scientists met twice a year and wrote to each other letter discussing various possibilities who the code could be deciphered. The ideas were good, but not good enough to crack the genetic code.

After many attempts to decipher the code, scientists were finally successful in 1961.

The man who cracked the code was Marshall Nirenberg, a biochemist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Nirenberg discovered the first “triplet”—a sequence of three bases of DNA that codes for one of the twenty amino acids that serve as the building blocks of proteins. Subsequently, within five years, the entire genetic code was deciphered.

The amazing discovery of a secret second code hiding within DNA which instructs cells on how genes are controlled, revealed our genetic code is even more complex than previously thought.

When the genetic code was deciphered, scientists assumed that it only described how proteins are made. However, the revelation made by the research team led by John Stamatoyannopoulos of the University of Washington showed that genomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages.

“For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made,” said Stamatoyannopoulos. “Now we know that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture.”

Scientists discovered that the second language instructs the cells on how genes are controlled

Professor Paul Davies, from the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at Macquarie University in Sydney put forward a unusual and thought provoking idea suggesting that there can be an alien message written in a binary code, hidden on our DNA.

Instead of leaving artifacts for humans to find once they are sufficiently evolved, an advanced extraterrestrial civilizations might instead incorporate information into the human genome, allowing it to be copied and maintained over immense periods of time.

The downside with leaving behind alien artefacts is that they will not survive for millions of years. A coded message hidden in our DNA, on the other hand can be saved for a very long time.

The coded message would only be discovered once the human race had the technology to read and understand it.

‘Our DNA is remarkable is so many ways and this brings us to the big question – Who is the creator of our genetic code?

That is a question no-one can answer. Some would say our DNA is simply a coincidence, a wonderful work of Mother Nature. People who believe in God will say our DNA offers evidence of a Cosmic Creator. Then, are those who think an advanced extraterrestrial civilization is responsible for producing our genetic code.

Maxim A. Makukov of the Fesenkov Astrophysical Institute and Vladimir I. Shcherbak from the al-Farabi Kazakh National University spent 13 years working for the Human Genome Project believe our species was designed by a higher power, alien civilization that either wanted to preserve a message in our DNA or simply plant life on other planets.

According to Makukov and Shcherbak humans were designed by a higher power, with a “set of arithmetic patterns and ideographic symbolic language” encoded into our DNA.

They believe that 97 per cent of non-coding sequences in human DNA is genetic code from alien life forms.

Whatever the truth may be, there is no doubt that our DNA is amazing and our unique genetic code raises many question about our existence and role in the Universe.

Written by Cynthia McKanzie – Staff Writer


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