Saturday, May 25, 2013

Contact, Carl Sagan and the Pi Code

In the film and book Contact by Carl Sagan (d. 1996), the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) plays a key role.  Jody Foster was the star of the movie.  In Contact, the intelligent signal arrives in the form of radio waves from space.  Right here on our planet we can find an intelligent signal in DNA!

Icarus is a prestigious planetary science journal.  Carl Sagan was the editor of this journal from 1968 to 1979.  Vladimir shCherbak and Maxim Makukov have written a paper in Icarus suggesting that DNA itself provides the SETI goldmine:

As the actual scenario for the origin of terrestrial life is far from being settled, the proposal that it might have been seeded intentionally cannot be ruled out. A statistically strong intelligent-like “signal” in the genetic code is then a testable consequence of such scenario. Here we show that the terrestrial code displays a thorough precision-type orderliness matching the criteria to be considered an informational signal. [1]

shCherbak and Makukov further state,

The signal displays readily recognizable hallmarks of artificiality, among which are the symbol of zero, the privileged decimal syntax and semantical symmetries. Besides, extraction of the signal involves logically straightforward but abstract operations, making the patterns essentially irreducible to any natural origin. [2]

shCherbak and Makukov make an explosive conclusion, “The patterns are shown to match the criteria of an intelligent signal.”  DNA contains information and info only comes from intelligence!

In Contact, the SETI signal starts with prime numbers (2,3,5,7,11,13,17,19,23,29,31,37 …). [3]  In the story, Ellie Arroway says, “No astro-physical process is likely to generate prime numbers … this looks like the real thing [a genuine SETI message]. [4]  DNA also applies primes!

Evolution News summarizes the findings:

The proline nucleon [protons and neutrons] transfer is like a decoder ring that makes the signal apparent and all the blocks balance out. Some other signs of artificiality are the fact that nucleon sums are multiples of 037; the stop codons [triplets that specify amino acids] act as zero in a decimal system, and all the three-digit decimals (111, 222, 333, 444, 555, 666, 777, 888, and 999) appear at least once in the code, "which also looks like an intentional feature" [according to shCherbak and Makukov].

R=side chain, B=standard block (H2NCHCO2H), 37*2=74.  Some Asian countries consider 888 “lucky.”

DNA also has arithmetic progressions!  654 (-1), 789 (+1) and 369 (+3).

The prime number seven also plays a significant role in the genetic code.  Seven Day Week = Six Days of Creation + Sabbath.  If you take the reciprocal of 7 and plot the digits you get an ellipse (1/7=.142857142857…).  Interestingly, every planet travels in an ellipse!

An ellipse is much like a circle (both are conic sections).  In the book version of Contact there is a SETI message in the digits of pi (3.1415926…). [5]  Using base-11 math, the digits of pi provide a picture similar to this:

Sagan provides the clear conclusion:

The universe was made on purpose, the circle said.  In whatever galaxy you happen to find yourself, you take the circumference of a circle, divide it by its diameter, measure closely enough, and uncover a miracle – another circle, drawn kilometers downstream of the decimal point.  There would be richer messages farther in. … In the fabric of space and in the nature of matter, as in a great work of art, there is, written small, the artist’s signature.  Standing over humans, gods, and demons, subsuming Caretakers and Tunnel builders, there is an intelligence that antedates the universe. [5] 

At the beginning of the chapter “The Artist’s Signature” Sagan quotes the following:

The universe seems… to have been determined and ordered in accordance with number, by the forethought and the mind of the creator of all things; for the pattern was fixed, like a preliminary sketch, by the domination of number preexistent in the mind of the world-creating God.  (Nicomachus of Gerasa, Arithmetic I, 6, c. 100 AD). [6]

Even the denizens of Star Trek® know an intelligent pattern when they find it.  The character Boma in the story “That Which Divides” states, “I was able to detect a regular pattern … Whatever that thing is, it’s not a naturally occurring phenomenon.  Someone or something put it there, deliberately.” [7]  Was DNA put on Earth deliberately?

If we saw two children in the maternity ward today with the labels SPYKE and PEARL, would we conclude that these are codes for the last five digits of their weights in kg (which would be random)?  NO‼  We know that these are their names intelligently chosen by their parents.

One wonders how Sagan would respond to the work of shCherbak and Makukov.  In the very book where Sagan tackles spirituality, he fails to deal with a truly significant work on that topic published 6 years before his death – Truth in Religion by Mortimer Adler.  Adler was the Associate Editor of The Great Books series and co-author of the popular How to Read a Book.  Adler was also the chairman of the Board of Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica for some time.  According to Adler, “The philosophical argument for God’s existence establishes a conclusion affirming God’s existence beyond a reasonable doubt.” [8]  Sagan was very critical of the Anthropic Principle, such as expounded in the film The Privileged Planet. [9]  In response to the question of whether the Lord Jesus Christ was simply written into history, Sagan said, “It’s certainly possible.” [10]

As I watched the four creatures, I saw something that looked like a wheel on the ground beside each of the four-faced creatures.  This is what the wheels looked like: They were identical wheels, sparkling like diamonds in the sun.  It looked like they were wheels within wheels, like a gyroscope.  They went in any one of the four directions they faced, but straight, not veering off.  The rims were immense, circled with eyes (Ez. 1:15-18, Msg).

For more on determining signals of intelligence and SETI, I would recommend the following from mathematician and philosopher William Dembski:
The Design Inference (pub. by Cambridge University Press)
No Free Lunch.
Will Dembski learn the truth about the Age of the Earth?  Read this bold and fresh new book on Young Earth Science (YES):
Special thanks to Francis Hall for the 1st, 2nd & 5th graphics‼

1) emphasis added.
2) emphasis added.
3) Contact by Carl Sagan (Arrow Books, London, 1986), p. 83.
4) Ibid., p. 76.
5) Ibid., p. 429.
6) Ibid., p. 422.
7) That Which Divides by Dayton Ward (Pocket Books, NYC, 2012), p. 39.
8) Truth in Religion:  The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth by Mortimer Adler (Macmillan, NYC, 1990), p. 18.
9) The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God by Carl Sagan (Penguin, NYC, 2006), pp. 53-59.
10) Ibid., p. 237.