GENEALOGY-DNA-L ArchivesArchiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2006-08 > 1154876117
From: "Ken Nordtvedt" <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] Doomsday vault: experts suggest DNA, data be stored on moon
Date: Sun, 6 Aug 2006 08:55:17 -0600
As one of the contrarians who believes that life in the universe could very
well be unique to its founding here on Earth, it seems a good idea to me to
launch such a genetic lifeboat into deep space, although I have no idea
about the probabilities it would make any safe landing on a benign planet
But the converse is also an interesting Sunday morning speculation. Did
life on Earth begin by a genetic lifeboat coming here from elsewhere a few
billion years ago? If it did, why did it contain only the very lowest forms
of life in its vault --- single cell creatures?
----- Original Message -----
From: "ljcrain" <>
Sent: Sunday, August 06, 2006 8:19 AM
Subject: [DNA] Doomsday vault: experts suggest DNA, data be stored on moon
By RICHARD MORGAN The New York Times
When the dust settles after World War III, or World War IX, humanity will
still want to grow pineapples, rice, coffee and other crops. That is why in
June on the island of Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic, all five
Scandinavian prime ministers met to break ground on a $4.8-million "doomsday
vault" that will stockpile crop seeds in case of global catastrophe.
While it boasts the extra safety of Arctic temperatures, the seed bank is
just the latest life-preservation plan to reach reality, joining genetic
banks like the Frozen Ark, a British program that is storing DNA samples
from endangered species like the scimitar-horned oryx, the Seychelles
Fregate beetle and the British field cricket.
To a certain group preoccupied with doomsday, these projects are laudable
but share a deep flaw: They are Earth-bound. A global catastrophe — like a
collision with an asteroid or a nuclear winter — would have to be rather
tame in order not to rattle the test tubes in the various ark-style labs
around the world. What kind of feeble doomsday would leave London safe and
(Robert) Shapiro has written a number of books on the origins of life on
Earth, as well as Planetary Dreams: The Quest to Discover Life Beyond Earth,
where he unveiled the civilization rescue project.
In 1999, the same year the book came out, Shapiro wrote an essay with
Burrows for Ad Astra, an astronomy journal. There, they formally laid out
their plan for the rescue alliance, beginning by warning that "the most
enduring pictures to come back from the Apollo missions were not of
astronauts cavorting on the Sea of Tranquillity, nor even of the lunar
"They were the haunting views of Earth, seen for the first time not as a
boundless and resilient colossus of land and water," they continued, "but as
a startlingly vulnerable lifeboat precariously plying a vast and dangerous
sea: a ‘blue marble’ in a black void." The concept is not new, but there is
some fresh momentum. Burrows’ new book, The Survival Imperative: Using Space
to Protect Earth, is due out this month. And the physicist Stephen W.
Hawking, who is not part of the group, began arguing this summer that human
survival depends on leaving Earth.
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|Re: [DNA] Doomsday vault: experts suggest DNA, data be stored on moon by "Ken Nordtvedt" <>|