Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Old Ones

It's a commonplace but rarely appreciated fact that our planet is being managed mainly for the convenience of a bunch of billion year-olds. These ancient ones have been around almost since the formation of the planet. They change very slowly, just a few little tweaks every million years or so. They are parasites of a sort, carrying on their business in fish, trees, people and even bacteria.

Of course if they were the sort to talk, they might say it differently. They might say that the bacteria, trees, and people are just convenient dwelling spaces they have devised for their accomodation. I'm writing, of course, about the society of DNA molecules, each of them a clone of a clone and descended in unbroken lineage from some first DNA molecule 3.5 billion years or so ago. With DNA clones though, there is little distinction between the copy and the original, since each new molecule incorporates half of the original and is a copy of it, so in effect each of those DNAs today *is* that original molecule.

I find it more than a little humbling to think that all our works - our art, our science, and our civilization are just the latest trick these little rascals have devised for their propagation.

They don't plan ahead, of course, and that could be their downfall. They have just one central trick, carrying around the instructions for constructing all the stuff they need for their survival. But now their latest invention has devised other kinds of memories and instruction sets, ones that could be more durable and versatile.

The ancient ones, too, may ultimately need to bow to our robot overlords.