Wednesday, July 08, 2009

"Garden," Junk, pt. 3, 388 words

The other was a sample of Rhea life, sharing the blue and red tagged guanine and cytosine nucleotides, while four new ones as yet unnamed had been marked with yellow, orange, brown, and black. Yellow only paired with brown, while orange only paired with black, bridging the double helices together.

“What are those,” Halsey asked, leaning in closer to look.

Rosenberg pointed to the Earth sample on the left, and then the Rhea sample on the right. “This one's a regular white lab mouse,” she said, “while this is one of your Rhea-voles. Structurally, as closely analogous to the mouse as I could pick out from your research results.”

“Okay. What of it?”

Rosenberg tapped a button on the keypad a few times, and the screen zoomed out from the data and images. Long strings of information shrank repeatedly, revealing more and more, until suddenly the Rhea-vole's sample cut off. The lab mouse's sample kept going, more than twice as long as the vole's.

Halsey gaped. “What the hell... That can't be right.” The look on her face warred between exhilarated and frightened.

“It is,” Rosenberg said. “And I'm seeing similar results for every other form of Rhea-life, as they come out of the sequencers. There isn't a single piece of Rhea-life that has any junk--” she caught herself on the outdated term, and corrected, “--any non-coding DNA. I checked. Every bit of genetic material here codes for either a protein or a regulatory non-coding RNA sequence, or acts as a buffer between genes for proper enzyme formation. There's literally nothing wasted. In fact...” She entered another command, and hundreds of sections on the vole's DNA sequence were suddenly highlighted. “See all that highlighted stuff? I didn't do anything fancy, just entered a find command for a sequence I'd designated before you came in. Those are buffer sequences. They're all identical, every last one.”

“That's impossible, to develop naturally,” Halsey said. She was dancing around it, didn't want to be the one to come out and say what they were both thinking.

“Exactly what I concluded,” Rosenberg said, her voice low. “On an evolutionary time scale, this kind of... construction had to happen, oh, earlier this morning.

“We're playing in someone else's garden.”

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