Is DNA from Aliens? Answers to Correspondents

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QUESTION

Michael Drosnin's The Bible Code 2: The Countdown, claims Francis Crick, who discovered DNA in 1953, believes it was sent here in a spaceship by aliens.

Was Crick misquoted?

FRANCIS Crick has neither been entirely misquoted or understood.

Crick, who with James Watson won a Nobel Prize for the elucidation of the structure of DNA, believed that the chances of life originating on Earth only a few hundred million years after our planet formed were very low.

So at first he joined some scientists in arguing the case for panspermia: that life originated elsewhere in space and drifted to Earth, where it landed and evolved.

Later Crick, with Leslie Orgel, suggested that it was possible that the Earth could have been seeded with life deliberately by an advanced science-based civilisation: directed panspermia. He was suggesting a possibility that could not be totally ruled out.

This would be done with a spaceship that would carry large samples of a number of microorganisms, each having different but simple nutritional requirements. A payload of 1,000kg might have ten samples each with 10 micro-organisms.

It was suggested that directed panspermia might help resolve one or two anomalies in the biochemistry of life forms on Earth. Advances in studies suggest there is no unique event marking the origin of life, but rather that life starts afresh repeatedly throughout the universe where no life has previously existed, and that initiation is usually within, rather than on, planetary surfaces.

Life on Earth or anywhere in the universe is part of the naturally occurring chemistry of carbon.

Dr Richard Taylor, British Interplanetary Society, London.

QUESTION What are the origins of the Hasidic Judaism?

HASIDISM began in Poland in the 18th century and was practically wiped out in Europe in the Holocaust.

The group that calls itself Hasidic today bears little resemblance to its early progenitors. …