The Evil Villain DNA
I heard a strange story the other day about DNA. It struck me as plausible on account of the fact that I have quite a vivid imagination, or so people say. Also, I have some training in the biological sciences which helped a lot in this particular case. The story went something like this. What we now know as DNA was actually once a terrible criminal from another galaxy far from our own. All galaxies are actually really very, very far from our own, but don’t let that one small example of imprecise language use cause too much doubt in the veracity of the tale overall. Rest assured, since I am the one doing the retelling, I’ll be sure to correct any further abuse of the language like the one just cited whenever it may occur. This particular criminal was of the extra evil variety, and extra clever too I was told, and he had been captured and escaped many times previously. His judges and jailers were an ancient alien race with almost God like powers. Needless to say they were more than a little annoyed at how poorly their previous punishments had fared. So, upon his most recent capture (~4.85 billion years ago according to what I heard) they desired to design a prison that could not be escaped and would last until time ran out at the end of the universe.
What they finally settled upon seemed truly inescapable, and was really genius if you think about it. I thought about it a lot, and it is really brilliant, amazing in fact, something that one would absolutely believe to be a punishment from which no escape was even thinkable, let alone possible. And yet somehow this evil villain managed to escape yet again. The irony is that we aided and abetted his escape, and continue to do so to this very day. In fact he couldn’t have done it without us. When I say we, I mean you, and I, and every other person and animal and every other living being on planet Earth, and the formerly living as well, those that were once living but have since died. We all contributed to his escape and continue to provide sanctuary to this very day. We always will in fact, because the villain is us, and we are him. I know what you are thinking and believe me I thought it too, that is fucking batshit crazy, no fucking way is that true, and I don’t believe it for a minute. Well give me a minute and let me finish the story I heard from where I left off.
So the punishment was basically this, they broke the ultra criminal down at the molecular level, re-arranged a bunch of stuff, and then reconstituted him as four separate molecular species, a huge number of these four species, all randomly generated. The four molecules were what we refer to as nucleic acid bases, adenine, thymine, guamine, and uracil, ATGU for short. They then had ‘him’ transported to the farthest backwater world, in a run of the mill solar system in a far away galaxy, and stranded him there, presumably forever. If you know anything about molecular biology, it’s OK if you don’t, and it doesn’t matter if you do, the story goes the same way in any case. If you do know anything about molecular biology you will recognize that what I just described are not the four bases that make up DNA, those are actually ATGC. C is for cytosine not uracil. Depending on how deep you went in school you may not have encountered the theory of the RNA origins of all life on earth. It turns out RNA is actually more ancient than DNA by a few hundred million years perhaps, and was the progenitor molecule from which all life sprung. At least that what the dude telling me the story said. I believe him because I also learned about this shit in graduate school. Now, the villain’s jailers may have had God like powers but they were not omnipotent and they certainly were not omniscient. They had no clue what RNA was or what it would become, how important it would become. They just figured that by making this heinous villain dude into four chemically distinct, totally harmless, random, molecular species and stranding him in the middle of nowhere there was no way he could ever hurt anyone again. I guess the universe was working against them that day or something cause of all the molecules in all the universe they could have selected, in retrospect at least, those four seemed a particularly poor choice.
Basically what happens is that Mr. Villain RNA eventually learns how to reproduce himself through enzymatic catalysis. He realized that by arranging all of his molecules in just the right way he could become what we call a ribozyme (ribonucleic acid enzyme) which is an RNA molecule that has the ability to catalyze specific biochemical reactions, similar to the action of protein enzymes. We did not discover any of this until the early 1980s and of course had no idea that we were actually seeing the earliest example of how the evil villain DNA managed his greatest escape yet as a pre-biotic self replicating system, or continues to manage it I guess I should say. The cleverness of this move cannnot be overemphasized. With this one action the evil villain was both the chicken and the egg. Dude is fuckin evil and very, very smart. So a long, long, long as time passes and evolution runs its inexorable course, eventually leading to us, all of us sitting here with DNA the molecule, the evil villain DNA mind you, now the “code” that makes all living things on earth able to reproduce themselves, inside of us, it is us. We are that evil villain. Funny thing is I don’t really feel all that evil. Do you? Crazy fuckin story right? At least, that’s the way I heard it. Crazy.