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No. 40: Jul-Aug 1985

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Genetic code not universal!

Most current textbooks pronounce that the genetic code is not only universal to life but that it must. Alterations in the code, the reasoning goes, would garble genetic messages. Such dogma, however, is based on another dogma, which states that all life on earth derives from a single ancestral line in which the genetic code is fixed and has always been fixed -- a "frozen" accident hit upon "by chance" on the primitive earth. Recently, though, small deviations from the code have turned up in ciliated protozoons and mycoplasmas, much to everyone's surprise.

(Scott, Andrew; "Genetic Code Is Not So Universal," New Scientist, p. 2l, April 11, 1985.)

Comment. No major deviations from the standard genetic code have been found; but then no one has really looked, because everyone knew the code was universal. It would be quite a shock if terrestrial life were found to have several genetic foundations and as many schemes of evolution.

From Science Frontiers #40, JUL-AUG 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987