Martian Microbe

Copyright 2003 by Paul Niquette. All rights reserved.

he sophisticated solver of this puzzle will be concerned that the use of 'dibits' for coding the four nucleotides can make every transmission vulnerable to communications glitches.  With no framing or redundancy, every possible string of bits can be interpreted as an ostensible sequence of nucleotides. 
Accordingly, the loss of one bit in the transmission would thereafter allow the first bit of each code to be interpreted as the second bit of that code and the second bit of each code to be interpreted as the first bit of the next code. 
By postulating such a happenstance near the beginning of the transmission in the Martian Microbe puzzle, the sophisticated solver can readily reproduce the 100-nucleotide sequence that would have been sent without the glitch as...
ACGCGCGACGGCCAAGGAGAGTGGC
CGGGTGCCGACCCTGCGATCGTTAG
GATGGCCGATCGCGCGCGGTGGAAC
CAGCTCTCCGTCTACGACAACAGGT
...and the relative frequencies will look like this...
 
Nucleotide
Martian Microbe
Earth-Life
Guanine
Cytosine
Adonine
Thymine
36.0%
29.0%
21.0%
14.0%
35.7%
28.6%
21.4%
14.3%

Oops.  Quite close agreement, it would seem.

There may indeed be a peculiar life-form on Mars; however, the Martian Microbe sequence could have resulted from a rather mundane kind of bug -- plus contamination by a pre-launch sneeze back on the planet Earth.


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