with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

A Look Back in Time: Extinct Cave Bear DNA Sequenced

The advances in science are fascinating, whether you have an interest in the sciences or are a nature lover like we are. The idea of being able to track down the DNA and learn more about the life that evolved on this planet, though long gone, is amazing. In this article from the BBC News, Extinct Cave Bear DNA Sequenced, scientists have not only sequenced the DNA of this long extinct cave bear from 40,000 years ago, they are starting to work on other animals and pre-homo sapiens.

There is a fascinating book by Orson Scott Card called “Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus” which takes a look at the concept of writing about an alternative history with a new twist. The book takes us into the future when the end of the planet is near because of harmful things humans have done through their greed, thoughtlessness, and just pure naivete. Along the way, scientists have discovered a way to “view” the past. For a while, this is very exciting, giving people a chance to prove what “really” happened at the world’s most famous moments. But like a lot of television, you can only watch so many “Survivor” shows and it got dull as everyone learns that most of the great mysteries of human history kinda happened out of sheer dumb luck and coincidence – being in the right place at the right, or wrong, time, and that greatness came with the telling rather than the viewing. People got bored, but not the scientists.

They figured out a way to calculate the precise moments in human history “when things went wrong”. And they figure out how to send a few people back there to “fix” it, at those specific moments, changing the movement of humans throughout the planet from consumers to protectors, melding with nature instead of destroying. A very gripping drama and beautifully written, the look at our history is amazing, and it gets you thinking about the points in world history you would consider “turning points” and how would you do things differently. Very thought provoking.

Today’s scientists don’t have the ability yet to actually “look” at history, but they do have a form of magnifying glass to help us learn about how historical animals and people lived, migrated, ate, and survived, or died. While DNA is not as powerful the ability to actually “view” the past, I still wonder how we would have changed things at those different points in time, if we could, to make the world honor nature rather than destroy it. And what we could do now to stop the future, as predicted by Orson Scott Card.

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