Two recent New Scientist articles set me a-thinking. The first involved a law suit brought by James Joyce’s estate against renegade biologist, Craig Ventner, for using a Joyce passage without permission. Ventner had inscribed “To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life” on the genome of his synthetic life-form. The second explored the possibility of sending bacterial colonists to other planets in the hope of seeding a world full of life like ours.
Surely, thought I, if we are considering sending forth an armada of bacterial pilgrims to infect new worlds, should we not equip them with, not just an apt bit of prose, but rather the sum total of all we know of the Earth, the heavens and ourselves, in some easily decipherable code, squirreled away in a nether corner of their genes? And, given that we have conceived, and very nearly have the capability, of such an undertaking, is it not possible that, millennia ago, residents of another world seeded our own planet in this same fashion and that in our genetic code may reside the truth about our genesis?
Being a living national treasure, my own genes were transcribed some years ago, and I fetched my copy out from under the bed the other day to see if there was anything intelligible therein. Code cracking not being my forte, it took several days to divine the key, but, lo and behold, the moment arrived when an impenetrable mass of random symbols dissolved into a discernible pattern, and before too long I was reading the very words of our progenitors.
I’m keeping them to myself of course, and have applied for a patent, effectively granting me exclusive license to exploit a tome that shall exceed in import any thousand texts one could name, sacred or profane, that have been said to change the course of civilisation. However, while not having read the entire epistle, I have skimmed and skipped through to the end and I feel I should inform you, and here I should issue a SPOILER ALERT, that our ancestors made their desperate gesture for immortality at a time when their world was entirely uninhabitable, from a space capsule orbiting their planet, by the last 5 beings of their civilisation in their last act before life support failed.