Labwork and The X-Files--Techinal Question--Help?

Tom Frey tomfrey at sprintmail.com
Thu Feb 12 01:34:23 EST 1998


The thread referenced discusses proteins of extra-terrestrial origin,
perhaps not best debated here, but I go on anyway.  First, I do watch
the X-files but don't have the episodes memorized by title, so I'm
guessing we have a flask of some oraganism to analyze.  The most obvious
hint of extraterrestrial origin would be for the amino acids to have the
wrong stereochemistry (microorganisms are the only terrestrials I know
of that pull this off occasionally - biologically).  Maybe someone could
chime in with the most obvious or straightforward test for this.  It's
certainly not the first thing I'd think to test for with a sample of an
unknown organism!  On the plus side, this test might turn around an
answer in a reasonable time, as opposed to sequencing which might yeild
some statistical lielyhood of unrealatedness a month later (assuming you
could clone or prime anything useful).  I would also guess that
extensive use of some odd base in DNA would also be a hint, following
Tom's suggestion of too many odd amino acids.  (Hope Tom will forgive
any spelling errors I may have let slip by :-) ).

Uh, I had to snip pretty extensively or my providers mailer got
irritated by "more includeded text than original".



Tom McCloud wrote:
> 
> TODD J PIERCE wrote:  I have a technical question about the X-Files   <snip>  some sort of genetic analysis--is
> > > > that it contains proteins not known on earth.
> > > > What test(s) would one need to perform to discover that there are
> > > > something other than the usual [???four proteins??? ] in that flask?
> >
> >
> >       Can't understand what you mean four proteins?    There are *millions* of
> > proteins, (SNIP),  then it cannot be determined if a protein is of non-earthly
> > origin or not.   (SNIP)  There are 4 bases in dna or rna, not the same in both
> > cases, and there are many other nucleotides known (SNIP)   There are 20 amino acids commonly found in proteins, but
> > hundreds of other 'naturally occuring' amino acids from other sources --a few
> > occasionally found in normal proteins (post-synthesis modification).  Now if Scully was
> > hypothesizing that some protein was other-worldly because it contained dozens of
> > these unusual amino acids in its structure, then perhaps one could build a case
> > for that.    I never watch X-files.    Is techinal the new English for
> > technical?      In a bad mood in Frederick, MD,  :)   Tom McCloud



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