TECHNICOLOR DREAMS AND GENETIC NIGHTMARES – BY TOM CURLEY

A few weeks ago my old friend Ben Taylor sent me a very interesting link to a story about archiving technologies . The story was about how all of our storage media eventually degrades. Film, tape, CDs, DVDs, flash drives, and so on all decay over time. Technicolor, the company that makes films so, technically colorful, has figured out a way to encode and store media on a DNA molecule! Here’s the article.

Basically, it’s not complicated. All of our media is now digital, encoded as a really long string of ones and zeros. DNA is a double helix molecule made up of four proteins CGAT. Cytosine, guanine, adenine and thymine.

teravivos.com
teravivos.com

They can combine in an infinite number of combinations, which is why DNA is such a handy way to store all of life’s genetic information. We also have machines called genetic sequencers that can both read a DNA molecule and build one.

DNA-O-MATIC! web.uri.edu
web.uri.edu

So, what the TECHNICOLOR people did was figure out how to encode the ones and zeros onto a DNA molecule, then build that DNA molecule. How do you play back the material? Build a player that reads the DNA molecule and converts it back to ones and zeros. Burn it onto a DVD and put it into your Blue Ray player.

The cool part is that you can store over 700 terabytes of information on one DNA molecule! Which is pretty much every movie and TV show ever made. The other reason they did this was because they say the DNA molecule is stable and won’t degrade.

But here’s the problem.

DNA MUTATES!!!!!!!

rbssbiology11ilos.wikispaces.com
rbssbiology11ilos.wikispaces.com

That’s how evolution works!

If DNA didn’t mutate, we’d still be four-legged lungfish crawling up out of the surf, looking up at the sky, land and saying: “Well, this is different. Hey Phil! Come on up here. You gotta see this!”

land fish
youtube.com

Now at this point you could argue that DNA usually mutates when cells reproduce.  Sometimes the DNA copies aren’t perfect and that’s what causes the mutation. But the Technicolor DNA molecules are just sitting in a test tube. They are not replicating.

Technicolor-DNA-Archive-2

That’s true. However — there are other things that can make DNA mutate, like radiation. A stray alpha, beta, or gamma particle could come along, hit the molecule, and knock out a quinine here, a cytosine there. After a while, things could change. Not immediately, but after a hundred, five hundred, or a thousand years?

A thousand years from now a group of historians, anthropologists, archaeologists and movie critics could get together to examine a recently discovered cache of late 20th Century movies and TV shows. They were  found buried in a vault archived with a quaint technology utilizing DNA by a long-forgotten company called Technicolor.

theshoreways.com
theshoreways.com

HEAD SCIENTIST: As you all know the discovery of this cache of ancient media has given us an unprecedented opportunity to measure the accuracy of our historical records against actual recordings of history.  You’ve all had a month to watch and review media from the last millennium. What have you found?

SCIENTIST #1: Well, actually some their movies are quite good.  I just watched two fantastic movies, “Ishtar” and “Waterworld”.

HEAD SCIENTIST: Hmmm. Our records indicate they were two of the worst movies ever made.

SCIENTIST #1: I can’t understand why. Did you know that Ishtar was the movie where Betty Davis said “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.!”  It only makes sense since they were all riding camels.  And Waterworld!  At the end, when Kevin Costner helped ET get back to his spaceship? I have to admit, I cried.

HEAD SCIENTIST: I see.  What about “Star Wars’?

en.wikipedia.org
en.wikipedia.org

SCIENTIST #2: I saw the first three movies starting with “The Phantom Menace”.

HEAD SCIENTIST: And?

SCIENTIST #2: They were really good!  And funny! Casting Groucho Marx as Obi Wan Kenobi and Robin Williams as  young Anakin Skywalker was inspired!

HEAD SCIENTIST: And the next three in the series?

SCIENTIST #3: Not so much. Darth Vader and the Emperor win in the end and destroy the rebellion. It was really depressing.  The only rebel left alive was Jar Jar Binks.

twitter.com
twitter.com

HEAD SCIENTIST: What about “Citizen Kane”? Our records show that as being one of the greatest movies of all time.

SCIENTIST #4: I don’t know why sir. In the first place somebody named Jackie Chan played the part of Kane. He spent the whole movie kicking people and riding on a sled. But he did do his own stunts!

HEAD SCIENTIST: What about “Casablanca?”

SCIENTIST #5: Horrible! Ronald Reagan as Rick and Joan Rivers as Ilsa? What were they thinking? No chemistry!

HEAD SCIENTIST: OK, what about television?

SCIENTIST #6: Quite frankly only one show stood out and it was brilliant.

HEAD SCIENTIST: What was it?

SCIENTIST #6: “Gilligan’s Island.”  Orson Welles as the Skipper, Brad Pitt as Gilligan, Marilyn Monroe as Ginger,  Sally Field as Mary Ann, Helen Mirren and John Barrymore as the Howells and  John Wayne as the professor.! Brilliant casting. And who knew Arthur Miller could write comedy!

sitcomsonline.com
sitcomsonline.com

What have you done Technicolor?  What have you done?

MASKED MAN

Who was that masked man? He left this silver bullet.


The-Lone-Ranger-Original

“A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty Hi-Yo Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again! … With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early west! Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear! The Lone Ranger rides again!”

In this day of superheroes, I want my masked man back. And his horse. And his faithful companion.

I grew up with the Lone Ranger and Tonto racing around my bedroom. Until I got the wallpaper, I was sure he was the Long Ranger … as in “he rode a lot and covered great distances.”

Other girls had Fairies and Princesses, but I had “Hi Yo Silver, the Lone Ranger Rides Again!” Although my walls did not play music, I could hum well enough and I had many a long chat with Lone and Tonto, Silver and Scout as I lay abed in the evening pondering the meaning of life and how I could convince my mother to let me have a horse.

Come back, Masked Man! More than ever, I need you now!

PROCASTINATION – IT’S EARLIER WHEN YOU THINK

Procrastination? It’s not procrastination. Uh uh. It’s enjoying the freedom of unharnessed time. For long time-faceyears, I too was scheduled. Always short of time, but never late. Never missed a deadline. Always left the house early in case I encountered traffic. I used up my time making sure to have enough time.

But time is all in our heads. There’s always time and there’s always no time at all. I put off what isn’t critical, do what must be done now, and the rest? I’ll have another cup of coffee and a Danish, please.

I call and change appointments when I don’t feel like going. If traffic piles up? I’m late. I say “Oops, sorry. Hit some traffic.” The world keeps spinning. No one takes out a pistol and shoots me. Yet.

In the immortal words of Robert Heinlein’s Time Travel Corps from All You Zombies —

Never Do Yesterday What Should Be Done Tomorrow

If At Last You Do Succeed, Never Try Again

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine Billion

A Paradox May be Paradoctored

It is Earlier When You Think

Ancestors Are Just People

Even Jove Nods.

Priorities are important. I’ll get my leaky valve fixed. In time. I’ll get that book review written. Tomorrow. I’ll process some more of the pictures we took yesterday … later. After coffee. After I read, write and think a while.

There will be time. For the important stuff. Maybe there won’t be time for other things and, well … they just won’t get done. Because my hurrying days are done.

AMERICA FROM THE SLOW LANE

DISCOVER CHALLENGE: OBSTACLES 

Surviving slow drivers on life’s long highway


I’ve read many stories in which authors wax poetic about the good old days when travel happened at a more gentle pace. Long journeys by narrow roads through quaint towns past farms, field, and woods. No super highways with steel and chrome food courts to mar the beauty of the countryside.

This is going forth to experience Real America.

I can remember some of those good old days. I’m just old enough to have been one of those kids in the back seat. Pinching and punching our siblings while simultaneously whining: “Are we there yet?”

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All of you who ever waxed poetic about those long ago days of back roads travel should make the trek from Jackman, Maine to Danville, Vermont.

The beauty of your journey will not be marred by wide, smooth, high-speed roads. Nor will you be assaulted by fast food or faster drivers. Your pace car is more likely to be an aging pickup truck, rattling its way down the mountain, one of the driver’s feet permanently glued to the brake pedal while the truck rattles back and forth across the single lane.

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It’s 231 miles from Jackman to Danville if you stay on the U.S. side of the border. Only one route is available. Route 201 from Jackman to Skowhegan. Hook a right on route 2. Drive for a really long time and do not plan on ever exceeding thirty miles per hour.

You won’t starve. You’ll find good food to eat, gasoline to be pumped as you pass through dozens of quaint little towns. There will be a pizza place in each village. Baked goods for sale. Sandwiches, too and chilled pop in bottles and cans. Clean bathrooms.

Autumn road to home

It’s a breathtaking journey through the mountains, especially in autumn when the trees are lit from within. The glory of Fall in the mountains of New England cannot be overstated. The mountains are alight with glory. It looks surreal.

And directly in front of you will be a slow, poky driver who will never exceed the speed limit. He will never reach the speed limit. In fact, he would never consider letting his vehicle get within 10 miles per hour of whatever the sign along the highway says is the safe (and possibly best) speed for traveling the twisting roads.

By the time we had been on the road for four or five of the 11 hours it would ultimately take to drive 231 miles, we were nearly overcome by unfriendly urges to get our little old car up to ramming speed and just push the slow, poky drivers out of the way.

“Wow,” I would say, “That mountain is insanely beautiful. Those colors, wow!” as we loop around a curve in the road. I’m over-compensating for my peevishness with the slow driver riding his brakes in front of us.

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Slow drivers wait for us. Not just when we are away from home, but around the Valley, too. We try to pass. They appear out of nowhere, pull out in front of us, and slow to a crawl. If, by some minor miracle we briefly break free, another slow driver is waiting and he or she is going our way. All the way.

It took from early morning to sundown to complete the trip. We crawled through Maine and New Hampshire and as the sun was setting, limped into Vermont. We made it. We had fully experienced the glory days of yesteryear on our highways.

Never have I appreciated Dwight D. Eisenhower more. Truly, we had overcome.

WHO WON THE BOOK? THE WINNER OF LAST WEEK’S GIVEAWAY IS ..

vabt-highresolutionROSE LEISING, YOU WON A FREE COPY OF “OBAMA’S ODYSSEY”


The author graciously donated a copy of her book to a lucky commenter … and Rose, you are IT!

obama's odyssey amazon cover

Rose, please get in touch with me; I need your mailing address! And thank you all for participating. The author appreciates it and I appreciate it 🙂