Episode 3: TNG’s “The Chase,” evolution, and extraterrestrial life
Image: Still from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 6, Episode 20: “The Chase.”
This week’s episode is available to listen to through our podcast host here: Episode 3
We’re also listed on:
For more reading on the effect of atmosphere on arthropod body size, now and historically:
- “Why Giant Bugs Once Roamed the Earth”
- Insect circulatory systems:
- Some scientific articles on insect body size and oxygen:
For more reading on philosophy of biology, specifically regarding disagreements on laws and evolutionary contingency:
- Historical Contingency (from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
- Philosophy of Biology (from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
- “Does Biology Have Laws? The Experimental Evidence” (1996)
For more reading on genetic algorithms:
Charles: This is Assigned Scientist at Bachelor’s. I’m Charles and I’m an entomologist.
Tessa: I’m Tessa, and I’m an astrobiologist.
Charles: And this week we’re going to talk about the Star Trek: TNG episode, “The Chase,” which is season six, episode 20. To begin with. I am curious what your Star Trek story is.
Tessa: Okay. So. I am by no means a hardcore Trekkie, but you know, I grew up with TNG still on, or at least very recently entered into syndication.
So I caught a lot of the episodes. I don’t think I ever saw this one in particular, but I definitely know I saw some of the other episodes in season six. I don’t know if I necessarily fully appreciated them either. Cause I was like eight, but you know, still… you know, I had a background familiarity with the series and I picked, well, I haven’t seen a whole lot of the original season, um, or Deep Space Nine, but I have enough friends who are very much into Star Trek that I picked up more detail just from ambient Star Trek chatter. So between all that, you know, I do have a fair amount of background in the franchise, despite not being a particularly devoted fan of it.
Charles: Fantastic. For my part… Star Trek was always something that I intended to watch, but I didn’t growing up ‘cause I’m not from a Star… I’m not from a science fiction family. I didn’t get to Star Trek until I was in a university. And it was the second year I was there. Montreal Comiccon had Patrick Stewart coming and I was like, well, if there’s any situation in which to watch Star Trek, I guess it’s this one.
Weirdly. I ended up watching DS9 first, and I’m not sure why that happened, but I watched Deep Space Nine, then I watched all of TNG, then I watched all of The Original Series. Then I tried watching Voyager and just couldn’t get into it.
Tessa: You basically did them in descending order of quality.
Charles: Basically. Yeah. Um, and I never got into Enterprise. I’ve watched a couple of the movies, but not many of them. Oh, I’ve seen the JJ Abrams first two movies and like any good Star Trek fan. I hate them. So my relationship is really… Deep Space Nine was my favorite, is my favorite. I think it’s the best Star Trek series because… My Star Trek hot take is that quality of Star Trek declines with increasingly polished production value.
Tessa: You know what, I could believe that actually.
Charles: I think… I feel like a really key element of the joy of Star Trek is how campy and ridiculous it can be a lot of the time
Tessa: There’s an earnestness about it.
Charles: Yeah. There’s earnestness about it. And seeing like, part of why I haven’t watched Star Trek: Discovery is just, like, looking at it… It looks so glossy and it doesn’t feel like Star Trek to me, really, in the same way.
So the, the premise of “The Chase” for anybody who hasn’t seen it, or won’t see it, or doesn’t want to see it, but for some reason still wants to listen to this episode, is that an archeologist that Picard studied with shows up with an incredible artifact and tells Picard that he has an incredible expedition to go on. Picard declines him. Then that guy dies. There’s a kerfuffle with Klingons and with Cardassians, they all end up on a planet together. Then there are also some Romulans and then a character appears and tells everyone that the reason all intelligent life in the Star Trek universe is bipedal is because the first universe-fairing intelligent life was also bipedal and they put some of their DNA into the early life on all of these other planets to direct them towards looking like that once they got to some future point.
Tessa: Yup. That’s, that’s pretty much it.
Charles: So what are your first thoughts?
Tessa: Okay, so. I have to say I was actually more impressed with this episode than I was necessarily expecting going in.
Cause the basic conceit of it is that the huge discovery this archeologist has made is that if you basically get, I think it was like DNA from 19 different planets, you know, obviously very different, but. It’s similar enough that it can link to each other. Um, it turns out that there’s like an algorithm encoded into it.
If you link all these like specific proteins or DNA codes together, like can be decoded and run as a program essentially. And, you know, they figured out, Oh, we, you know, we found 15 of the 18 or however many different DNA sequences there are, we need to find the other so we can figure out what this code is and everybody’s trying to race each other to it because obviously, you know, this is weird and it could be something important, some sort of, you know, vast, important secret for weapons or something.
I don’t know. And it turns out, of course now it’s just the encoded message that you were mentioning earlier. Oh, Hey, we seeded y’all with life. That’s why you look like us. We did it because we’re the only ones in the galaxy and we got lonely. We thought, you know, we’d want the lifeforms that come after us to actually have people to talk to.
Which you know, is first off – I really like the idea that it was an algorithm. That it wasn’t just a message, it was actually a self-executing program, which is very clever, partially because it will evolve… from a dramatic standpoint, it avoids having to figure out, okay, how are we going to decode this thing and translate it?
I mean, obviously the alien message still speaks in English because everybody speaks English on Star Trek, but you know, still that’s beside the pointm, and also honestly, if I were going to encode a message in DNA or really anything, you know, as a, sort of an attention getter or, you know, signal another civilization, a self-executing algorithm is probably going to be the best way to do it.
Um, because it, you know, could then potentially translate itself. You have a lot more versatility and capability in what you can do with it, which when you’re potentially interfacing with completely, maybe even unimaginably, different cultures and modes of thought can be really handy. Um, and also just DNA itself lends itself to that sort of communication.
I mean, DNA arguably is a self-executing algorithm. And actually my advisor, Sarah Walker, has, you know, gotten a lot of mileage out of conceptualizing the physical phenomena of life itself as an algorithm that has been instantiated in a physical form. So again, well, I’m pretty sure whoever wrote this episode probably wasn’t thinking quite that deeply about it, maybe they just wanted something that sounded cool. Uh, it actually, you know, had a lot of brilliance behind it.
Charles: Yeah. I like the phrasing of DNA as basically a self-executing algorithm. It’s a very evocative way to put it. I’m curious because this was in the sixth season. TNG started in 1987. So this would have been about 1993 – where was astrobiology as a field in 1993?
Tessa: We were kind of founded in the seventies, you know, Carl Sagan, um, and then Lynn Margulis and some of the other early frontrunners, Gene Shapiro, um, you know, mostly with excitement about the initial wave of Mars exploration, and also steady getting started in the sixties and seventies, but things that kind of died down in the eighties, you know, SETI hadn’t heard anything, and there wasn’t a whole lot going on in terms of planetary missions aside, probably from Voyager. Just cause the budget was going elsewhere at the time, but there wasn’t as much attention to it, but yeah. You know, there had still been stuff bubbling along on the surface. Um, with that said the idea of genomic SETI, you know, DNA being encoded in DNA of lifeforms, you know, as a message from, say, long ago.
Okay. You know, I think this episode might have actually been then one of the first references to it. Um, because I know I’ve only seen it in scholarly works within the last five or 10 years, and I could be wrong about that, but to the best of my knowledge. Yeah. I haven’t actually seen it appear in the literature until that point.
So it may have been, the episode may have been very ahead of its time from an astrobiology point of view.
Charles: Huh. Yeah, I hadn’t thought about that, but that’s interesting that it would have been fairly early in the sort of modern era of, people really meaningfully being able to sequence the DNA of organisms.
Tessa: Yeah. That’s part of it too, is that, you know, we just didn’t know a whole lot about, well, I mean, we knew genomes existed, but we didn’t have anywhere near the in depth knowledge we have now, genomics was barely just getting off the ground at that point. So I’m sure that was part of it too.
Charles: And from the perspective of a systematist, um, the nineties is really the first – that’s really when molecular systematics is starting to ramp up in any real way, because like, even in the early two thousands, like major molecular systematics studies were comparisons between sequences from five different individual genes sometimes. And that was really exciting and impressive. And now we have, you know, phylogenomics and you sequence an entire organism and then compare those against each other, which is wild, um, time, right?
Tessa: Yeah, no kidding.
Charles: I had another question that I was going to ask, which is, yeah, I guess from the perspective of an astrobiologist here’s my question: so the bipedal, hairless person who doesn’t have ears, but still has breasts for some reason. Um, they talk about DNA and seeding this into the DNA of early life. Do astrobiologists view DNA, as some, as likely something that’s really universal?
Tessa: There’s a lot of discussion and debate about that. You know, DNA has a ton of advantages as a system for storing biological information – it’s very stable, but not so stable that it doesn’t change over time. You know?
Cause you do get mutations, which from point of evolution is something you actually want. Just not too much. Cause you do want to have that ability to potentially adapt to changing environments. Um, it’s extremely information dense. It has, uh, the mechanisms that have evolved along with it have a very, very low rate of error, you know, extremely good proofreading capabilities.
You know, it’s a very, very sophisticated system with that said what we currently have as DNA isn’t necessarily universal. For one thing, there are a lot of alternatives. Our DNA uses four pairs as the basis of its code, you know, guanine, adenine, cytosine, and thymine. And you don’t necessarily need – oh, and sometimes uracil too – um, you don’t necessarily need to use those bases.
There are other bases which are sometimes even used in, uh, synthetic biology these days, um, which work just as well. Um, you know, and I don’t, I’m not a prebiotic chemist, so I don’t know if there’s any particular reason, you know, those four to five bases that I mentioned are the ones that pretty much all life on earth uses, but on the other hand, you know, if there are alternatives that work just as well, I don’t think there’s any reason that there’s anything special about the bases we use.
And of course, if that’s the, the case, then, you know, DNA… you know, extraterrestrial organisms could have DNA, at least structurally the composition of it. Yeah. Maybe very, very different. Yeah. With all that said, I mean, I. I believe there are probably other forms of information storage that you could use. I mean, you could use increasingly complex, um, RNA complexes, for example, and other, I don’t know, you know, or using protein instead of nucleic acids would be another approach.
Pretty much any biochemical molecule that has a lot of variability in it, whether it’s amino acids or nucleic acids or lipids or protein or what have you could potentially be used as an information storage mechanism? The expectation is we will probably see DNA or at least that’s what we look for first if you’re talking about, you know, wanting to do a sample return mission to Mars or Europa or any other places that we think might have life in our solar system, but I don’t think it is inevitable.
Charles: Hmm. It’s interesting because something that comes up with some frequency in philosophy of biology is a question regarding like the nature of science and what makes something science.
And one of the answers to that question has frequently been that science is a discipline which can create or… not which creates, but which discovers and articulates laws. Like physical laws. And I think one of the things that’s interesting in biology is that, and certainly my perspective is generally that the notion of laws is usually not useful for biology because so much of observation of life on earth is characterized by broad patterns that have numerous individual, um, exceptions to it. And so I wonder if there’s a difference – I wonder if the attitude in astrobiology is more for or against the notion of there legitimately being biological laws.
Tessa: That is actually a very hot topic. And that’s something that my lab in particular is very focused on, but sort of thinking about, are there.
Rules of physics that specifically, or, you know, particularly with regards to thermodynamics and information theory, um, that apply to life that don’t apply to other systems. Um, and part of my research also is looking for sort of universal patterns of life. I think that, you know, during one of our previous episodes, I talked about looking for network topology, and that may be an example of, Oh, law of biology that, you know, all biological systems are going to have this topology, maybe just because it’s emergent as the easiest or most resilient way to go around, organizing your chemistry beyond that, though, there is usually a lot of hesitance to make any iron clad assumptions about there being universal laws of life, especially, you know, if we’re looking at radically different ecosystems or biochemistry or environments, because, you know, under such situations, life may go down a radically different path than what we see here.
There may be no reason to assume. For example, that Darwinian evolution would necessarily be the end, all be all of. Like on an ecosystem, you know, the whole thing, maybe some, the whole biosphere may be entirely symbiotic. They may have some sort of mechanism that allows Lamarckianism instead of, of Darwinian evolution.
Charles: To interject for anybody who’s not already familiar with like history of evolutionary thought in biology, um, generally when we say Darwinian evolution, we’re talking about evolution driven primarily by natural selection with the idea being that there just are differences that appear in individuals in a population and the force of basically survival and reproduction changes the distribution of those characters within a population, as those which are most helpful from a certain perspective will increase with frequency and Lamarckianism was sort of a… I don’t actually remember the timeline, but an alternative idea that individual organisms changed within their lifetime, and then could pass on the changes from their life history to their offspring.
Tessa: Oh, good way of summing it up.
Charles: Thank you.
Tessa: So, yeah, I don’t think we can necessarily. Or rather, I should say beyond the possibility of like some very, very fundamental emergent laws about, you know, thermodynamics that, Oh, you know, you can only get a biological system can only be so efficient, and as a result, you’re going to see certain motifs, you know, manifest themselves, you know, whether that’s chemical network topology or, you know, methods of storing information or whatever. Um, I would be very hesitant to make anything, to make any statements or assumptions above the, like the level of extremely, extremely fundamental first principles when it comes to laws of life.
So, you know, central dogma, which, you know, is – biology on earth is the idea that you go from DNA to RNA, to protein. It’s the major function of DNA is basically building proteins, which your body then uses to do pretty much everything. We should not necessarily assume extraterrestrial life will function that way.
You know, we should not necessarily assume that, as I said, as we were discussing earlier that the laws and patterns you see associated with Darwinian evolution or population genetics will hold. You know, there’s just so many unknowns. I think it’s very premature to assume that there are any sort of constant laws of life.
And as you said, that’s not really all that different from terrestrial biology. I mean, even within our own biosphere, we see so many exceptions to any pretty much any rule anyone to set up.
Charles: Well, it’s interesting to me, because a common theme when I’ve read philosophy of biology papers dealing with the concept of applying the notion of scientific laws to biology is that the pro argument is often that there are certain boundaries based on the physical reality of the universe that we live in, in which life can function like… organisms usually can’t get above a certain size because of physical forces that are acting on them. Et cetera, et cetera.
But then where that always breaks down for me is when you get into the specificity that defines a lot of disciplines within biology. Basically, I’ll put it this way. One of the arguments, the argument that biology is basically just applied chemistry is basically just applied physics, always fell down for me because it seems to have this very condescending attitude, that things that are particular within biological disciplines, like natural historical observation, or looking at the specific physiology of insect digestive system or whatever, are ultimately irrelevant to the grand universal laws that we can actually apply to things. Um, which strikes me as very shortsighted.
And so it’s interesting that, again, we would see maybe the idea in astrobiology that there are these very, very broad limitations on what life might be in the universe, but we can’t more granularly say, that this can’t happen, this can’t happen, this will happen because there are so many different ways that life could develop in the universe.
Tessa: I mean, you know, I am sure for example that right now, there’s probably an informal law about how large insects can get on the earth. Um, because most insects and correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t have a closed circulatory system or at least if they do, it’s nowhere near as sophisticated as what you think in vertebrates.
Charles: Yes – I’m going to take a moment just to talk about insects because they’re the best. And I am derailing and I own that and I’m still gonna do it. So insects and arthropods broadly have an open circulatory system where they don’t have like all the stuff that they don’t have a centralized heart that is pumping blood to different organs.
They have basically organs are awash in a, in a sloshing sea of hemolymph. That oxygenates and then deoxygenates and goes back and forth. And the really, an equally important thing that we talk about when we talk about size limitations on insects and other arthropods is particularly respiration where insects don’t have a pair of lungs.
That’s, you know, pumping everything all throughout. They have these holes in their exoskeletons, like in the outer cuticle, called spiracles. And so there’s a very, it’s typically a very passive diffusion of oxygen through the spiracles into the body. And so they’re based on the oxygen, um, the proportion of oxygen and our, you know, Uh, environmental, what is the word… atmosphere!
There is only so large that they can get where they can still functionally respire. And what’s interesting is that if you look back in the fossil record, we used to have much, much, much, much larger –
Tessa: That’s what I was about to bring up. Yeah. Cause the oxygen level in the atmosphere was about 10% higher than it is now.
Um, and so I guess my point was since, you know, he, even, even here on earth, the morphology of insects, which are very successful and massive clade, um, have varied tremendously in response to their environment. Even only, you know, like I said, by 10% oxygen increased and all of a sudden you’ve got dragonflies that have foot long wings.
Charles: Yeah. Huge millipedes, et cetera,
Tessa: Given how sensitive life, even in terms of like very basic morphology can be in terms to its environment and how radically different something environments other planets might have. You know, again, I think it would be foolish to assume, well, you know, we see this pattern of morphology or whatever and say, okay, that’s a law – that’s how all organisms of this type or this environment are gonna look, um, based off of like the conditions on earth right this instant.
Charles: And it’s also… thinking even more specifically, really about evolution, another part of the argument, and there is a word that I can’t remember… once this gets posted, I’ll include a source with it.
The idea being that there was an argument historically, and potentially still going on but I haven’t keyed into it over weather. The course of evolution on earth was what it had to be or just what it ended up being.
Tessa: Ah, yeah.
Charles: Which is, I think an interesting discussion, generally, in the context of, you know, the world building that’s presented in the episode, “The Chase” of there… the general consensus is that evolution could have gone a lot of different ways. And it’s just a matter of chance and just circumstance that the slate of creation that we have on earth is what it is. And what… what’s interesting to me is that Star Trek, particularly TNG, but just Star Trek in general is so like, it’s a very pro science show obviously. And it’s also a very specifically secular show. Like Gene Roddenberry did not enjoy religion. He was not into it. And his vision of a progressive, utopian future was one where religion was a relic of the past.
Charles: And particularly, I don’t know if you would have seen this. There is a two-parter episode in TNG where Picard ends up on a planet with like cousins of Vulcans and Romulans.
Tessa: Yeah, I remember that.
Charles: Yeah. And they imagined that he is a God, but they’re like, Oh no, because the whole… there’s like a generalized pattern of cultural progress leading up to the point where I think it’s, they develop like warp technology and then the prime directive no longer applies and you can talk to them.
Um, and so part of that is losing like deification. And so it’s very interesting to me that sort of this episode and the way that it concludes has sort of backed itself into a weird creationist argument.
Tessa: Yeah. A little bit.
Charles: Yeah. Of presenting bipedal life as like the end state of like the peak of evolution on a planet.
Tessa: Yeah. And I mean, I’m definitely in the category that, you know, evolution could have gone different ways. I don’t think there’s any particular reason that, you know, the major vertebrates, pretty much all of them on earth are tetrapods that, you know, we have four limbs. I think it’s just, you know, would have been equally likely that we could have ended up with, you know, hexapods you know, six limb or even eight limbs.
Charles: I saw a post recently online that was quoting a documentary or something… humans aren’t the peak of earth evolution. Humans are an aberrant side-branch of fishes.
Tessa: Yeah, pretty much.
Tessa: And so, you know, for example, there’s no particular reason that example, well, the human humanoid body form would be ideal.
I mean, even looking on earth, work us and, you know, a few of the other primates are pretty much the only species out of the entire world. That’s true. The planet who have that body shape.
Charles: Couple a birds, maybe,
Tessa: Maybe, um, I mean, there have been bipeds but, um, you know, none of them have had, you know, exactly what I call a humanoid shape.
I mean, I will note that the bipeds that we have had, which included, you know, most … So, you know, dinosaurs and most birds have been wildly successful. So for tetrapods, it’s not a bad deal, but you know, again, having the specific humanoid body plan it’s, you know, appears to be something unique.
And I don’t think there’s, I mean, obviously it gives us the ability to interact much more and alter our environment much more directly compared to other species. But again, you know, having a… as long as you have. Something, if you want to be an intelligent species, as long as you have some way of interacting with your environment, with some degree of dexterity, I don’t think it had to be, you know, humanoids with hands doing stuff.
I think octopi, if they got smarter, would have been just as capable.
Charles: Yeah. As a side note, have you read the Animorphs series?
Tessa: Uh, I was mildly obsessed with the first couple of books and then for some reason I dropped that, but yes, I have read some of them.
Charles: There’s an idea that comes up again and again with Anamorphs is that the yeerks, they view earth as like the ultimate jackpot because human bodies are such a useful body to control. Cause we stand up on two legs and we got these dexterous little hands.
Tessa: Right. So I think like that part of it, even if they have an explanation for why it’s happening within the Canon of Star Trek, that, Oh, it was this genetic manipulation, you know, I don’t… I thought it was clever. It’s a good way of explaining why, you know, they didn’t have to shell out the money for really weird looking aliens.
Um, but yeah, on the other hand, like even if you had that sort of DNA manipulation that far back, I doubt it would have helped. You know, during the billion years, for example, that, you know, we only had single celled organisms on the planet. I don’t see why they would have bothered to keep the, um, genes that would eventually lead to bipedalism and the humanoid body form, unless it was just assumed they were somehow emergent from this DNA, which again, does not appear to be the case, at least looking at history of, of life on earth.
Charles: Well, there’s another interesting idea, sort of buried in there, which is the question of why humans are so… why we so uniquely cogitate on the earth and sort of one broad theory I’ve seen floated on that is that our body plan is particularly well suited to that.
Tessa: Oh, it could be. Yeah. I mean, obviously it does have its advantages.
Charles: Cause it’s also, cause I didn’t look up any information on sort of the making of this episode. Um, but I wonder how much of these questions were actually in the minds of the writers versus just… all of our aliens look like weird humans.
Charles: Should we explain this? And the answer is like, you don’t have to, like, we know it’s a TV show with a moderate budget, like, um, but that is interesting.
Tessa: Well, I have one more thing to contribute and that’s, I’d like to loop the conversation back to genomic study.
Charles: Oh, absolutely.
Tessa: So like I mentioned, you know, the idea that there could be signals from extraterrestrials and coded in DNA is a serious idea in astrobiology. Um, it’s been advanced a couple of times in the last 10 years.
One of the people who has proposed it is Paul Davies who’s actually… he’s affiliated with ASU and occasionally shows up for our lab meetings and was also at my wedding – fun bit of trivia – who is, he’s a big deal physicist, but he’s also written a lot about astrobiology and the sort of structure of extraterrestrial life.
So, you know, he’s talked about the idea because it’s unlike radio, which is sort of the traditional thing that SETI has been focused on genomics messages. Aren’t time dependent, you know, you put them in there and they could potentially stay there. If they’re in a stable gene for millions and millions of years, they’re self reproducing.
And, you know, will spread throughout a population and, you know, are also potential, like I mentioned earlier, DNA has these really amazing, uh, rrror correction mechanisms. So, you know, as long as you put it in the right place where it doesn’t get junked up, you know, a message in DNA could potentially stick around for extremely long periods of time.
You know, as a result, like I said, you know, this has been a topic of serious discussion in astrobiology, and there have even been searches for potential genomic messages and crazily enough. There’s at least one paper from 2013, which claims to, uh, found some. Um, they’re very abstract, but basically it’s, they noticed that there are certain mathematical patterns in our genome that seemed to favor the decimal system, which is weird because there’s absolutely no reason for there to be any sort of favoritism for one counting system over another.
When you’re looking at mathematical patterns and DNA, I mean, we use the decimal system because we have 10 fingers, but, you know, there’s absolutely no reason that DNA would. Um, and I thought they were kind of vague about it, but apparently there are also a few other like mathematical patterns that show up and they actually argued that it was a potential sign of these messages being artificial in nature.
Um, and I should note that this was a, you know, an article published in Icarus, which is a very mainstream, fairly respected planetary science journal. This was not like, you know, out there, you know, published on some anonymous forum on the internet, you know, this was the real deal. Um, so like I said, you know, I think the chase, the episode was in that case.
There’s an argument to be made that it had very strong foresight, um, that the idea that you could have these messages encoded in DNA, millions, if not billions of years before the present day by, you know, sort of a past civilization, which could then remain relatively unchanged up until the present
Charles: That is interesting. I, my first response is we all know that DNA mutates. And so what are sort of the thoughts on the, that possibility?
Tessa: Well, I mean, yeah, that’s the thing is that you either have to encode it somehow in the entire genome, you know, in the structure of the genome itself, or you’d have to attach it to something that’s really important.
Um, But, you know, it’s unlikely to be mutated, um, because like, if you stick it in like a non-coding region, it may just end up becoming company in a or structural DNA at which point. There’s no reason for it to maintain its message.
Charles: Yeah. Well, in this moment, this might be a good opportunity to clarify sort of, because I don’t know how broadly known this idea is that there are sections of DNA that are very likely to change and there are sections of DNA that are incredibly unlikely to change.
Tessa: Right. Whether or not the term in biology is that they are strongly conserved or not.
Charles: And the, the portions that are strongly conserved tend to be portions that code for extremely important functions in the body,
Tessa: Which, you know, you wouldn’t want them to change because if they change too much, then you die or more likely, never are able to develop to the point of being born in the first place.
But yeah, so that’s kind of like, you know, as sort of screw-ballish as Star Trek can be about astrobiology sometimes, you know, I do think whoever wrote that episode does deserve a fair amount of credit for, you know, having the foresight to think about different ways of encoding information, um, across the galaxy, and across enormous amounts of time.
Charles: Yeah. Well, it’s interesting, particularly because Star Trek does get a lot of plaudits for anticipating a lot of technological advancements. So it’s interesting that there would be even if accidentally similar foresight in like more niche scientific tools.
Tessa: Yeah, yeah.
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