Riddle Me This … !
Unlocking the greatest word puzzle ever made
Published: 18 September 2007 (GMT+10)
Games such as crosswords, jumbled words, and anagrams are a popular pastime enjoyed by many. Pitting their mind against the game designer’s is satisfying to the hard core puzzler.
For scientists today, one of the greatest challenges is unlocking the remaining mysteries of the greatest word puzzle ever made; DNA.1
Deoxyribonucleic acid contains the hereditary information in humans and other organisms. Simplified, DNA is a very long string of letters of a unique language.
The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four ‘letters’ in the form of chemicals called nucleotides: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). These bases, read three at a time (a ‘codon’), effectively providing for up to 64 different words. These words, ordered by the millions or even billions, provide the information available for building and maintaining an organism, similar to the way in which letters of the alphabet can be arranged into words that form meaningful sentences.
Think of DNA like a library of books, instruction manuals that contain everything about a creature and how to put it together and maintain it. Each ‘library’ (genome) has books of information we call chromosomes. Each book of information has chapters in them made up of sentences we call genes. The chapters are groups of genes that are read in a coordinated way (‘operons’ for example).
The genes in each of us determine specific traits each of us will have, such as green eyes, brown hair etc. The coding for each gene is spelled out in sections along the length of our DNA.
Scientists admit the DNA code is by far the most sophisticated code known to man. Its ability to store information is astonishing.2 Even computer software guru Bill Gates has said,
‘Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.’3
One of the amazing things about DNA coding is that there are ‘overlapping genes’ where more than one lot of information is stored in the same area.
For example, the information to build proteins for brown hair might overlap information to build your toes. To illustrate this read the following sentence.
My therapist has brown hair.
Stated this way the sentence has a certain meaning. But starting at the second word and putting a space after the first three letters produces a different meaning.
The rapist has brown hair.
DNA coding is far more sophisticated than this however. The average human gene contains approximately 500 words (nucleotide triplets or codons). When comparing overlapping genes to written paragraphs, this is like having two completely different five-hundred-word articles overlaying each other. By starting at a different point in the text, a completely different story would be read!
Even more incredible is the fact that at least some overlapping genes can be read backwards as well as forwards. This would be like writing a story and then by starting at a certain point near the end and reading it backwards, a completely different story would be told, with perfect spelling and punctuation!
So far, no one has ever accomplished this, and it is considered virtually impossible. Any person who could design such a code would be considered super-human.
For the puzzler, the complexity and ingenuity of the creator of the game is well appreciated. Because codes and languages require a creator, we recognize the intelligence behind any puzzle we see. The more clever the puzzle, the more clever the designer!
Thus the ‘mystery’ of whether there is a Creator God needn’t be puzzling at all.
The complete story of who He is and what He has done for us can be found by anyone willing to read His word, the Holy Bible.
- Wieland, C., The Human Genome Project: how should we view it?, 4 July 2000. Return to Text.
- Wieland, C., The marvellous message molecule, Creation 17(4):10–13, 1995.; Gitt W., Dazzling design in miniature , Creation 20(1):6, 1997. Return to Text.
- Bill Gates, The Road Ahead, Penguin Group, New York, p. 188, 1995. Return to Text.