Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space Games

Tabula Rasa Promotion To Send Gamers' DNA to Space 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-in-case dept.
Bridger tips news that NCSoft's Tabula Rasa, created in part by Richard Garriott, is running an unusual promotion right now. Garriott is going to the International Space Station on October 12th, and he'll take with him a digital record of the DNA of various players and celebrities. The basic plot of Tabula Rasa is that Earth was attacked and humans almost completely wiped out. Garriott's promotion is playing on that idea; the hard drive with the DNA data will be left in orbit "just in case" something happens to humanity on Earth. NCSoft has been running a variety of polls and contests to include further data about humans on the hard drive. The deadline for joining the project has recently been extended to September 29th.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Tabula Rasa Promotion To Send Gamers' DNA to Space

Comments Filter:
  • by Aranykai (1053846) <slgonser.gmail@com> on Sunday September 07, 2008 @09:25AM (#24909653)

    They should send every last copy of the game into orbit and leave it there.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Are you nuts? Then if something happens the game survives!

      I say we keep it here just in case. No wait...

  • Ouch. (Score:4, Funny)

    by mikkelm (1000451) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @09:37AM (#24909721)

    Imagine that - a world populated solely by celebrities and hardcore gamers. A superior race of shallow procrastinators.

    • While DNA can be used like a fingerprint to identify someone, I don't think it has ever been proven to be a sufficient definition to recreate man, or any other living creature. Ok, it's just a game, so I shouldn't be so serious, but even if it were possible, why would you want a future alien scientist to recreate you? Best case scenario is they have a human version of Jurassic Park, worst case is he needs a test subject. I won! I won! Doh!
      • by mog007 (677810)

        You do realize that YOU yourself will not be negatively impacted by aliens fiddling around with your genetic code in a million years, right?

        Consciousness isn't determined solely by DNA, otherwise identical twins would be perfect clones of each other, or even be capable of clairvoyance or something.

        • by Nymz (905908)

          You do realize that YOU yourself will not be negatively impacted by aliens fiddling around with your genetic code in a million years, right?

          Consciousness isn't determined solely by DNA, otherwise identical twins would be perfect clones of each other, or even be capable of clairvoyance or something.

          Well, then for my future identical twins... "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." - John Donne

          • that's a pretty verse and all, but then aren't you implying it shouldn't make a difference who's DNA is sent up? so if someone's DNA is going to be sent to space, then why _not_ have it be yours?

            besides, i don't get where you're getting your best/worst case scenarios from (Hollywood blockbusters?). who's to say that they're not going to put your DNA to benevolent uses.

            perhaps humanity won't survive the next millennium. maybe some space-faring aliens will come across the DNA data and try to revive the human

      • by lilomar (1072448)

        I don't think it has ever been proven to be a sufficient definition to recreate man, or any other living creature.

        Isn't DNA, by definition enough to recreate a human (or other carbon-based life-form)?

        Just because we don't know how to do it, doesn't mean that all the information isn't there - it has to be or you wouldn't have been able to exist in the first place. The only thing not included is whatever is learned from your environment, so memories are out (we think).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Nymz (905908)

          Isn't DNA, by definition enough to recreate a human (or other carbon-based life-form)?

          Just because we don't know how to do it, doesn't mean that all the information isn't there -

          Nope, DNA doesn't define Mitochondria or Mitochondrial DNA. The theory goes that you create some artificial DNA, transplant it into a Mitochondria cell, and then it starts working. Of genetic ancestry interest, is that Mitochondrial DNA is only passed mother by mother, because fathers do not pass theirs on.

      • by maglor_83 (856254)

        If the aliens get hold of my DNA, they might be able to control me, even though my blood type isn't A+.

  • Fragile data (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @09:38AM (#24909731) Homepage

    DNA molecules are fragile, and hard drives even more so.
    The DNA data will be shredded by cosmic rays, and even if it wasn't, how exactly would that save the human race in case of an extinction level event.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Print it out on paper.
    • Not to mention that the ISS is huge and in a fairly low orbit - without periodic boosts, it's not going to be up there long. I think I've heard 18 months, but certainly not more than a few years.

      • by WK2 (1072560)

        That's a feature, not a bug. The hard drive will be easier for the surviving humans to retrieve if it comes back to Earth on its own.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      What's more interesting to me is how they are going to obtain the DNA sequence of the gamers, that's a far from straight forward process, even the next-gen sequencers would have a tough time creating a reasonable sequence for $100,000. My guess is they are talking about mapping some common SNPs and that's it. Still I'm tempted to enter just to get a copy of my genome.
      • by DrVomact (726065)

        I think they are talking about the character database from the game. Has nothing to do with "DNA", except that in the game, you were a soldier who could be revived as a clone "from stored DNA" if you died. I died lots of times, horribly, in battle against insectoid aliens. Only to be revived, sent back into battle to die again...and again. I am deeply disturbed by the thought that somewhere, some time, there might be a version of me condemned to that particular hell. Now would be a good time to test that a

    • so what would be the best way to ensure the survival (or continuance) of the human race in the case of a global catastrophe?

      obviously space colonization is probably the best way to safeguard our species from extinction. but short of building massive traveling space colonies to ferry human settlers to other parts of the galaxy, there's no real practical means of establishing new human settlements beyond our own solar system.

      perhaps we could set up colonies on Mars, Titan, or even the Moon. maybe we can even

  • Wait, what? Only their DNA? Damn
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Sunday September 07, 2008 @09:45AM (#24909787) Homepage
    Presumably they are sending digitised nuclear DNA into space. That is not enough to make a human body: you need the mitochondrial DNA and somewhere suitable to grow the embryo.

    That might give you a body, but what you really want is the person: all the memes that s/he has would need to be recorded and suitably grafted in, even then what you get won't be much like the original.

    OK: I'll admit that it is a fun idea, but that is about it.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Presumably they are sending digitised nuclear DNA into space.

      They're not doing that even. At least not for several people. It took us 10 years and 3 billion dollars to sequence [wikipedia.org] the genome of one human being.

      So what are they sending up? Maybe a copy of the reference human genome with some fingerprinting data for each individual? But genetic fingerprinting is like a hash, you can't work backward from it to get actual genome information.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DriedClexler (814907)

      Yeah, there's an unfortunate misconception that the DNA contains sufficient information to make the organism. In addition to what you said, there are also the beneficial microbial organisms [boston.com] throughout animals that are required for many functions to work. For example, the digestive tract in particular requires the help of many bacteria. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember or google the actual term for this kind of cell.

    • by upside (574799)

      Never mind the fact that our genetic makeup is only a tiny fraction of what makes us humans. A human re-created from DNA would still be an alien to us.

  • by 4D6963 (933028)

    1. They store the sequenced DNA digitally. Do we *know* we can rebuild a fully functioning creature from just that?
    2. If we all died today the ISS would burn down in the atmosphere in only a few months due to atmospheric drag.
    3. What kind of media is that anyways? Doesn't look like it's the type of thing that you could still read 1,000 years later.

    • Re:Silly (Score:4, Informative)

      by david.given (6740) <dg@cowlark.cCURIEom minus physicist> on Sunday September 07, 2008 @10:08AM (#24909951) Homepage Journal

      1. They store the sequenced DNA digitally. Do we *know* we can rebuild a fully functioning creature from just that?

      We know we can't. DNA is, if you like, a program; but in order to make sense of that program, you need an appropriate computer to run it on, which is a human womb.

      Some combinations of animals are compatible with each other --- lions and tigers, for example --- but most animals aren't. Try to grow an embryo of the wrong species in an incompatible host and it'll crash; either it'll just die, or else the mother will abort it.

      About the only thing you could do with a DNA sequence in isolation is poke through it looking for interesting protein sequences.

      • by mog007 (677810)

        Lions and tiger are NOT compatible with each other. They're able to produce offspring, but Tigons and Ligers are sterile. Just like donkeys and horses are able to produce mules and hinnies, they're all sterile. Though I did read somewhere that a mutation occurred that caused a hinny to be non-sterile. Of course without a similar mutation occurring in another crossbred it wouldn't be very useful.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by david.given (6740)

          No, that's not what I meant --- a lion embryo will develop in a tiger womb, and vice versa. I'm not talking about the ability to cross-breed (although the reason why they're developmentally compatible is because, as you say, they're closely enough related that they can almost cross-breed).

          The same applies to donkeys and horses.

        • by nospam007 (722110)

          >... but Tigons and Ligers are sterile. Just like donkeys and horses are able to produce mules and hinnies, they're all sterile. Though I did read somewhere that a mutation occurred that caused a hinny to be non-sterile.

          Not _all_ of them are sterile, they never were.

      • by 4D6963 (933028)
        Good point, although it wasn't my point. My point was that there probably was more to heredity than just a sequence of proteins. I.e. I'm not sure you can reconstruct a human being (or even a rat) by just having their digitized DNA, even if you could synthesise it.
        • by david.given (6740)

          Um... yes. That's what I said.

          (In fact, there are a few known traits which are hereditary which are not genetic: having the trait in the mother causes the embryo to develop in a certain way which causes it to have the same trait. Nothing very exciting, though, unless someone's discovered something new since I heard about all this stuff.)

          • by 4D6963 (933028)

            I seem to recall reading in a scientific magazine that it had recently been discovered that something like the folding of something, maybe the DNA double helix thing or something related to RNA, could have a role.

            And no, that's not what you said, I was talking about creating a viable cell to begin with, you were talking about making that cell grow.

  • Humans are our DNA's elaborately evolved package to defend it from a hostile universe. Sending our DNA out into space undefended with its human package is simply surrendering without a fight.

  • This sounds great at first. But if it's in space, then aliens will get hold of it, clone me a hundred million times, arm all the mes to the teeth, and then invade.

    It's okay if that happens with somebody else, but it would make me feel sort of guilty, being the template for the harbinger of extinction.

  • Pessimistic? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jheath314 (916607) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @09:58AM (#24909879)

    They must be anticipating the demise of the human race really soon. So far I've outlived every hard drive I've ever owned... and all of those weren't exposed to hard radiation.

    On a more abstract level, I doubt you'd be able to reconstruct any living creature using its DNA only. From what I understand of biology (which is rather limited), the DNA itself only contains the blueprints for how to create proteins, but the how, when, and how much is controlled by RNA, which previously had been overlooked as "just a carrier molecule". To put it in computer terms, the DNA is the processor, while the RNA is the operating system. You'd have a tough time re-creating Linux/Windows/Mac OS X based solely on the circuit diagram of a processor.

  • Won't we need some female DNA to rebuild the population?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    y'all need to lighten up. It's a game promotion. A serious effort to preserve human DNA wouldn't be spearheaded by a space tourist.

    Oh wait...this is Slashdot.

    Carry on.

  • Personally I am just happy that some of the music of Bach is on the Voyager Golden Record [wikipedia.org], traveling off into the cosmos, and will in some small way survive even the heat death of our sun. That's _real_ immortality.

  • ...Send Gamers' DNA to Space

    2010 A Sperm Odyssey
    "My God, it's full of sperm!"
    This gives new meaning to the term "blast off".
    [All right, I'll shut up now.]

  • If humanity was extinct who would retrieve the hard drive? And what type of file system does it have?
    • I expect the cockroaches will evolve into an inteligent species and retreive the capsule sometime in the future. Then the winners and celebs will be cloned and put into a zoo for all the cockroach kits to come and poke at. Some prize....
  • space junk (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cliffski (65094) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @11:23AM (#24910533) Homepage

    isn't there already a problem with too much crap from earlier missions in orbit? do we really need another chunk of metal whizzing around for the next million years?
    Tragic PR stunts should stay out of space.

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @12:11PM (#24910939) Journal

    Current technology to COMPLETELY sequence a single person's DNA is still way too expensive to be practical. It cost billions of dollars for the NIH and Craig Venter's company to sequence the first human (in 2000). (Guess who's DNA they used!) Even after eight internet years It probably is still in the millions of dollars, I don't think Mr Garriot is going to fork over that kind of cash. He's probably going to pay for some people's genetic PROFILE to be sequenced, enough for certain genetic diseases to be exposed. (I think you can get this done for about $1000). Then again, aliens could also use it to pick out the (un)lucky human from a extra-terrestrial police line up! Still there certainly wouldn't be enough information to recreate the human "from scratch" even assuming the technology was available.

    However, he could at least bring up Craig Venter's publicly available DNA and if stored digitally I'm sure that it could be encoded very very redundantly so that even a huge number of cosmic ray hits wouldn't effect it. Consider Voyager, with 30 year old tech., still can run its old programs.

    As for bringing up the real stuff, I'm not sure that the NASA/ESA and other ISS partners would appreciate him bringing up little vials of other people's DNA for storage. (Of course some contamination has always been unavoidable, humans are basically walking bags of bacteria). Would he just take some hair samples or bring up DNA in more purified form? (Actually the previous poster's 2010: A Sperm Odyssey wouldn't be bringing up complete copies of the person's DNA because during reproduction the sperm cells only have half of the man's genes...). He could however get someone's DNA and using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) make as much of it as he wants. Milky white fluid, looks just like sperm.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Current technology to COMPLETELY sequence a single person's DNA is still way too expensive to be practical. It cost billions of dollars for the NIH and Craig Venter's company to sequence the first human (in 2000). (Guess who's DNA they used!) Even after eight internet years It probably is still in the millions of dollars,

      While you're basically right, you're absolutely wrong about this. Full genome sequencing has become incredibly cheap, relatively speaking. You can get your entire genome sequenced for a "mere" $350,000 or so. Sure, out of the reach of you or I, but not even half a million bucks.

      What's brought on this revolution in sequencing technology costs?

      Well, first, we've already sequence the whole genome, and individuals don't vary so much, so it's relatively easier to sequence a similar individual rather than piec

    • update-in today's MIT tech review they have a story about the first full sequences being available for $350K. So only the price of a dress (if you're Mrs. McCain ;).

  • Instead of throwing money away at stupid promotions, why don't you put the money into the game and make it not suck so much?
  • Why not just put the thing on a planet, or one of the moons of Jupiter or Saturn? That should give it at least some protection, certainly more than it would have just orbiting around the Sun, and we would always know where to find it.
  • Another piece of space junk; I do, however, see an opportunity for gods must be crazy like moment where a hard drive falls out of the sky and hits a person, place or thing; or maybe someone does get the data, they follow the recipe hoping for something good, they get a few of us, realize their error and place the newly grown humans on a type M planet somewhere...

  • ... discover this hard drive in orbit. They read it, reproduce the DNA sequences and breed a race of gamer clones that will inevitably take over the universe.

    Whatcouldpossiblygowrong?

  • I agree with the previous commentor(s) who said they'd be much better off investing this money in improving the game instead.

    Reagarding sending my DNA up into space:
    1) Just the sequencing part of the promo sounds pretty cool, the sending to space part just stupid marketing crap
    2) Sending the data up on a hard drive - WTF? Are we really using sneaker-net to get data to and from space now? Wouldn't ya think it be more effecient to maybe 'transmit' the data into space instead of bringing a fragile, heavy obj

  • They take my sperm and Angelina Jolie's egg, make a test tube baby, launch it into space.

    Sign me up!

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.

Working...