maandag 15 april 2013

Scientists say that aliens got funky with a monkey and created man

We live in an age of scientific wonder. This week 
the Iranians announced that they’ve invented a time machine, which feels unnecessary because they’ve been living in the 14th century for the past thirty years. And the North Koreans have finally learned how to attach a nuke to a missile, although the glue comes unstuck whenever it rains. But the best news of all is that two Kazakhstani scientists have discovered the origins of human life. We are all the product of alien breeding experiments.
Vladimir I shCherbak of al-Farabi Kazakh National University of Kazakhstan, and Maxim A Makukov of the Fesenkov Astrophysical Institute, say that we’ve been branded with an “intelligent signal” in our DNA that is of alien origin – a little like the word “Brighton” that runs through a stick of candy rock. They argue that rather than looking out into the stars for extraterrestrial life, we should devote ourselves to unravelling our DNA in search of that big “hello!” that the aliens left imprinted on our physical being. Here’s how they phrase it, with the “far out” cadence of truly hippie professor: 
Once fixed, the code might stay unchanged over cosmological timescales; in fact, it is the most durable construct known. Therefore it represents an exceptionally reliable storage for an intelligent signature. Once the genome is appropriately rewritten the new code with a signature will stay frozen in the cell and its progeny, which might then be delivered through space and time.
It’s a very academic way of saying “millions of years ago, two aliens (let’s call them Norbert and Frank) came down to Earth, drank a bit too much primeval soup and decided to get funky with a monkey. And rather than leaving a box of milk tray, they imprinted their signature on our DNA as a momento.” Of course, it would have been nice to get a phone call afterwards. Typical men…
That’s a fascinating theory, but I’d like to offer two of my own. First, Vladimir and Maxim, our imaginative scientists, got utterly baked while watching Prometheus and confused fact and fiction. For this is literally the plot to Prometheus: aliens created man with the hope that someday we’d come looking for them. I guess we’re lucky that they didn’t mix cannabis and Transformers. If they had, they’d have written a paper about how we’re all descended from a Ford Fiesta called Maximus Gimp.
Alternatively, Vlad and Max are chasing research money by making genetics far sexier than it really is. It’s one thing to go to the President of Kazakhstan and say, “We’d like to investigate the evolutionary origins of the appendix.” Quite another to say, “Give us a million billion dollars and we’ll find life on Mars without even leaving the Earth!” If this hypothesis is true, it’s a reminder that many scientists are just as much on the make as car salesman or politicians. They have to justify the taxpayers give them: this is how the whole global warming panic started.
But the big takeaway from the story is that, to paraphrase Chesterton, “If you’ll believe in nothing then you’ll believe in anything”. In a world without a God, any bizarre or random idea will be taken up to fill the void of a giant metanarrative to our lives. Time travel, communism, alien DNA – they’re all evidence of man searching for something that will give them a reason to get up in the morning. Or just a reason to give Vlad and Max a lot of money to investigate the extraterrestrial origins of my left foot.

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