back to article Human DNA 'will be found on moon' – Brian Cox

A UK nonprofit, funded via Kickstarter – and endorsed by famous rockstar TV boffin Brian Cox – aims to land a robot probe (a probot, as some call them) on the Moon: one with an unusual purpose. And the team is sure that if the mission is a success, there will be human DNA at the site. CGI image of Lunar Mission One on the …

  1. wolfetone Silver badge

    Fairly sure the Aliens, Santa Clauses, and Space Nazi's won't like this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Space Nazi's

      The Space Nazi's what?

      Or did you mean Space Nazis?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Space Nazi's

        Uh oh.. here come the grammar Nazi's

        comments.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Space Nazi's

          *Orthography Nazis.

      2. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Space Nazi's

        The funny thing with autocorrect is that it corrects the word only, but not correcting the word for the context used.

        All thumbs down or complaints, please direct to my phone. Cheers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      but

      the Toast King is all in favour, at least as Insanity Prawn Boy tells it.

    3. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      HUMAN DNA to be FOUND ON MOON

      Ah, yeah. Plenty of it frozen in the lumps of Apollo-era feces that were presumably flung outside before they left.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: HUMAN DNA to be FOUND ON MOON

        Not so much flung as carefully placed some distance away from the LM in the hopes the blast of the ascend engine wouldn't fling it all over the surface.

      2. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: HUMAN DNA to be FOUND ON MOON

        So when Buzz Aldrin said that Apollo was like a dog urinating on a lamp post to mark its territory before ignoring it, he was being literal?

    4. Simon Westerby 1

      It will just find Clangers DNA ..

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Alien

      Not a a Nazi, just common sense.............

      What a load of toss this whole article is, to be honest, in fact the whole mission. The ONLY way they'll find human DNA on the moon is because the bloody rocket plonked it there!!!

      Sorry, one possible exceptions are that if you consider all those ancient monuments on the moon, we could have been there already in a previous civilisation or else we arrived here via the moon, à la courtesy of our alien overlords. Oh, and one more possibility, Appollo 11-17 astronaut poo.

      No?!!!!

      Really?!!!

      What, we were spawned from comets? What a load of complete and utter crap! More like the comets picked up a bit of organic molecules from the detritis thrown up violently from planets due to direct hits from asteroids and comets, not the other way around.

      I wish someone would me pay me loads of research £$€ to come up with fanciful ideas that gullible idiots are keen to swallow hook, line and sinker.

      Sigh.....................................

    6. Darren Forster

      Probably DNA up there already...

      Sorry to disappoint Brian Cox on this amazing achievement but surely someone with his immense knowledge should have worked out by now that there probably is already DNA somewhere on the moon already.

      There is also most probably human DNA also on mars, and somewhere out in very deep space, and also at this present time riding the back of a comet.

      Any time we've sent stuff up into space people have touched the items we've sent into space and infected the item with their own DNA at some point, even the hubble space telescope that has gone into deep space possibly has human DNA attached to it, and recently the probe that landed on the comet would have human DNA on it.

      Unless all these devices were wiped absolutely spotlessly clean of all human DNA before being sent up (which is highly unlikely), then there will already be human DNA up there somewhere.

  2. Matthew Smith

    Wheres the ambition?

    Considering that the payoff to this mission isn't for another 10 years, its all a bit underwhelming. If this was to happen on a moon around one of the outer planets, or the base unit was mobile and could sample from multiple sites, then I would get on board. As it is, it all feels like something that could have been done in 1974, never mind the space year 2024. Good luck to them anyway, but I can imagine a couple of Chinese astronauts sat on a rock nearby watching everything take place.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Wheres the ambition?

      They are planning a relatively deep core drilling, which requires a lot of extra equipment over a single core drill. I doubt they would be able to get this to work in the 70s. However, I agree making it a stationary station kind of dulls the whole thing to less than meh.

      1. toxicdragon

        Re: Wheres the ambition?

        Why are people like you never happy? This project has a robot/probot/whatever which makes it cool, it will then take place on another planet which makes it cooler, and then it will do something that is a great challenge, that makes it both even cooler and something worthwhile. Learn to love the world a bit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wheres the ambition?

          While I agree with your sentiment, I find myself forced to point out it's not another planet. It's, er, a moon.

    2. omnicent
      Facepalm

      Re: Wheres the ambition?

      Did you miss that they want to do this for 600k? Try doing that in the 70's. The future of Space is about doing it in an affordable way, without Cold-War military budgets...

  3. TRT

    Christ on a bike!

    Have these people never seen Dr Who? Yeah, great idea, not, putting a big cache of DNA up on the moon for any old passing invasion fleet to turn into some kind of 'blood control' weapon.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Christ on a bike!

      I am sure they already have enough DNA from the various "pluck'em, fuck'em, chuck'em" alien sex tourism experiences that red-neck abductees report...

    2. Doctor_Wibble

      Re: Christ on a bike!

      Or better yet, use it to make some clones for initial analysis before making a final decision on just what sort of farm the planet needs to be. Keeping Earth as more or less free-range might be OK as long as there's a sufficient market for that sort of thing but if it turns out that breeding factories and a production line are what is needed to ensure an adequate supply then that would involve a fairly convoluted planning application for change of use, not to mention the inevitable human rights protesters and activists getting in the way...

      Sorry, I never could resist the old alien 'we are humanitarians we only eat humans' joke...

      1. TRT

        Re: Christ on a bike!

        So long as they see we, as a race, are shitting in the aquarium and install some better filters etc.

        1. MassiveBob

          Re: Christ on a bike!

          Sounds like a bad idea to me...

          It will only take a few hundred years for the human hair to evolve into mutated giant humanoid cockroaches that will attack and kill any humans that tries to land on the moon.

          The last time, this happened on Mars and it did not turn out pretty...

  4. Rol

    Remember me..

    "but they do say that it could potentially last a billion years up there."

    I guess enough egomaniacs will come forward with their selfies and dna to fund a thousand tonne memorial headstone to cap it off.

    1. Alister
      Coat

      Re: Remember me..

      Would this headstone be made of black non-reflective material, and sort of rectangular, with dimensions in the precise ratio of 1 : 4 : 9?

      No...

      Oh, okay then, as you were...

  5. Adolph Clickbait

    Hope they land on my acre

    I'll be charging rent! http://moonestates.com

  6. trance gemini
    Angel

    send (a big) cox to the moon

    how much do they need?

    will they take a cheque?

  7. Psmiffy

    Probot?

    Is this some new word and is it up for selection for the new dictionaries out next year? I have not heard it mentioned before and now suddenly in the space of a few weeks its seems to have come to prominence.

    And what to the amateur bots have to say about this?

    1. Irongut

      Re: Probot?

      I first heard the word Probot in 2003. (NSFW)

      1. Simon Harris

        Re: Probot?

        2003? You're a bit late to the party. I first heard the word Probot in about 1994. It's what we called our automatic Prostate Resection Robot partly developed by me in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Imperial College - see here:

        The Probot

      2. Simon Westerby 1

        Re: Probot?

        I thought "Probot" was often used to describe the Imperial Probe Droid from Empire ... certainly pre 2003....

  8. caffeine addict

    Isn't there a treaty in place to keep the moon free from biological contamination?

  9. VinceH

    Since the article doesn't include it, here's the link to the actual Kickstarter page.

    While the whole time capsule nonsense is going to attract a lot of scorn from the readership of sites like El Reg, it's worth considering that it's really just a means to an end: a way to provide some kind of incentive to Joe ChavPublic to get him to stump up some money to help fund the project. Without that incentive, Joe ChavPublic would see the project and think "Meh".

    What should be more important to those of us who aren't like Joe ChavPublic is the scientific aspect of the mission.

    Listen to what Brian Cox says at about 3:50 into the video - paraphrased, it's "The key thing for me is that everybody can say 'I think we should explore space, I want to increase human knowledge, and know how the solar system formed.'"

    And that, sadly, is almost exactly what Joe ChavPublic won't think - and there probably aren't enough of us who do think that when it comes to crowdfunding something like this, so providing a silly incentive gets Joe ChavPublic on board.

    Sad, but c'est la vie.

    1. Irongut

      "Listen to what Brian Cox says at about 3:50 into the video..."

      I'd rather gouge my ear drums out with a rusty spoon thanks.

      1. Rosie Davies

        I am glad I am not the only one who feels an urge towards violence whenever they hear Brian Cox. I am a bit more generous with my violence though and would willingly share it with the irritating one.

      2. Mevi

        wouldn't... be so bad.... IF... it didn't... take him... so long to say...... THINGS.

  10. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip

    Rockstar boffin Brian Cox?

    D Ream were a pop dance band, not rock by any stretch of imagination.

    1. stucs201

      Re: Rockstar boffin Brian Cox?

      Indeed. You have to go for the other musical Brian (May) to find a rock star astrophysicist .

    2. Sirius

      Re: Rockstar boffin Brian Cox?

      He spent a LOT more time as a member of Dare though, and they were indeed a rock band. And very good too. People are way too obsessed with D:Ream.

  11. jerrywickey

    Human DNA on Moon

    That's already happened. The Apollo missions left a lot of equipment on the moon. There is a lot of human biological material on those. DNA is safe in the vacuum of space.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Human DNA on Moon

      Good point. Iirc, prior to LM liftoff, the crews dumped a bunch of unneeded stuff onto the surface, including used-up PLSS packs and other assorted trash including urine/fecal bags.

      This Cox guy is supposed to be such a big-shot scientist; why doesn't he know about that?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Human DNA on Moon

      The Apollo missions left a lot of equipment on the moon.

      Or on a sound stage somewhere in Nevada

      1. toxicdragon

        @AC

        It wasn't a sound stage in Nevada, it was a sound stage on mars. Get your facts right.

    3. Simon Harris

      Re: Human DNA on Moon

      "DNA is safe in the vacuum of space."

      Some people might beg to differ...

      Cosmic rays can seriously damage DNA.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Human DNA on Moon

        DNA is not likely to survive intact on the surface of the moon. Since there is no geological activity on the moon, there isn't a good mechanism for it migrating down on its own.

        When one complicates the problems by specifying "Human" DNA, the probe better be able to process the entire volume of the moon and discount materials found at any of the lander sites since the differences between human DNA and DNA from any other living thing is not a very large difference. One would need several (or many) complete strands before there would be enough data points to say that "human" DNA was found.

        Screw the probes, it's time to found Luna City and HKL and then there definitely will be Human DNA on the moon (or IN the moon as the case may be).

  12. Robert E

    No DNA on the moon

    Human hair does not contain DNA. The hair root does, but not the hair itself.

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: No DNA on the moon

      What about DNA attached to the hair from human contact?

      Though it might not necessarily be the DNA of the hair's owner.

      And if it isn't a hair from the person's head there could be all sorts of icky substances on it.

      1. Simon Harris

        Re: No DNA on the moon

        "What about DNA attached to the hair from human contact?"

        I am just envisaging aliens discovering this artifact in a million years and concluding we were a race of space-faring(-ish) headlice.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DNA

    Last forever eh?

    So just how long does DNA last in a high-radiation environment then? Not to mention one that continually cycles between +200C and -200C. I give it a couple of months max before its just a canister full of dust.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DNA

      Buried at 20 meters it will be safe from radiation, and the temperature is probably constant at that depth as well.

  14. Pete 2 Silver badge

    The blob

    Makes you wonder what all that hair DNA will mutate into after a billion years on the moon. Given that people have paid their own money to send it there, I doubt it will evolve into anything intelligent

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Helium-3

    Moon's regolith is plentiful of helium-3, a precious fusion fuel to power neutron-free fusion reactors. It will be amazing when mining the moon's regolith starts to get helium-3 to supply fusion-powered spacecrafts for exploring the whole solar system. http://youtu.be/u8n7j5k-_G8

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Helium-3

      Not that it casts doubt on the particular video you cite, but the "related videos" column on that page is packed to the gills with horsehockey about cold fusion and people building fusion reactors in their garages.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Helium-3

        horsehockey about cold fusion and people building fusion reactors in their garages.

        Yeah it's mad isn't it? My reactor is in the garden shed. In the corner behind the lawn mower.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Helium-3

          Didn't The Man® have to take down the shed and pack it away in yellow 55 gallon drums some years ago?

    2. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: Helium-3

      Yeah, but then some 21st century human hair gets in the reactor and mutates. Future man will be wiped out by the resulting monster!

    3. Simon Harris

      Re: Helium-3

      Fusion reactor fuel?

      Nahh... it'll probably be mined to fill party balloons when all the ordinary helium has run out!

    4. Vociferous

      Re: Helium-3

      > Moon's regolith is plentiful of helium-3

      No, it's been SPECULATED to possibly contain TRACE AMOUNTS of He3.

      > a precious fusion fuel...

      ...which is useless until there are fusion reactors to use it.

  16. joeW

    Ah, good old El Reg

    Whatever about the headlines, it's the URLs that are the real stars of the show.

  17. Stevie

    Bah!

    I would like to propose an alternate scheme, wherein sponsors submit photos that are used to make high-relief etched plates. These are fastened to the blunt snout of the spacecraft, which is driven at maximum revs into the lunar regolith, stamping the likenesses into the green cheese for all eternity.

    No harpoons or drills needed.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WILL THIS BE BRIANS LEGACY?

    has this fuck actually contributed to science or has he just passed a load of exams?

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: WILL THIS BE BRIANS LEGACY?

      "has this fuck actually contributed to science or has he just passed a load of exams?"

      The former. Exams finish at MSc level, and you get a chair (professorship) based on your academic weight. You can look up some of his papers, if you like. I don't know what the ATLAS project is, but I'm pretty certain he's using the LHC at CERN for more than just high-energy Scalectrix...

      http://academic.research.microsoft.com/Author/23398545

      1. Stevie

        Re: more than just high-energy Scalectrix

        Oi! Marshal that quark, please!

    2. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: WILL THIS BE BRIANS LEGACY?

      You may not personally like him, but I am fairly sure he's inspired a few kids and members of other age groups to take a 2nd and maybe 3rd look at science as a career, so, especially in comparison to someone whose only achievement so far is calling him a 'fuck' anonymously on the internet, I'd say he's contributed :)

      1. Andrew Meredith

        Re: WILL THIS BE BRIANS LEGACY?

        Frankly anyone that can make STEM accessible to "Da Kidz" is fine by me. I think he does a grand job although he does get called "Professor Boy Band" in our house :-)

  19. John Jennings

    Atlas was one of the detectors used in the race to detect the Higgs Boson (actually, it was the detector which actually found it). He also worked at one of its predecessors, HERA (in Hambourg)

    Cox (according to Wpedia) is a professor (physics),

    he has degree in Physics, Masters (same) PhD (same) , and is a fellow of the Royal Society. oh and has an OBE (so to the AC, you can call him Sir :) )

    The exams are the least of it. You might not like him (appears fashionable, here) but he has fairly transformed the British medias presentation of science. These days, there isnt a science presenter with a fraction of his chops - David Attenborough is old, Patrick Moore was good perhaps 20 years ago, and is dead....

    1. Simon Harris

      Jim Al-Khalili - now that's someone who can present a good science programme.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Jimmy Alkaselzter is great. (Other than how his podcast comes out after editing).

    2. John 62

      OBE == sir?

      I thought it was just KBEs who got to be called sir.

      1. Stevie

        Re: OBE == sir?

        Trudat. If you have an OBE you get called "Ringo".

    3. Mike Flugennock

      I rather enjoyed James Burke

      His series The Day The Universe Changed was picked up by PBS in the States in the early '80s, right about the same time that Sagan's Cosmos was becoming popular. We were also getting Attenborough's program(me)s about the same time as well; those were also excellent.

  20. razorfishsl

    Great…..

    Not only have we polluted the Earth but now we are dumping spunk filled tubes on the moon.

    Holidaying in the UK, the nightmare was always to digup or find a spunk filled jonny on the sands, some time in the future space tourists holidaying on the moon will also have that pleasure.

  21. Vociferous

    "The team behind the mission don’t really say much about the wisdom of sticking a load of human DNA on an extraterrestrial body"

    On the moon? Doesn't matter at all. It's a dead rock. Even if it wasn't, there isn't anything desiccated DNA can get up to on its own.

    Also, if the hair is left on the surface, the radiation will break down the DNA in the hair in a couple of decades.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hair brained scheme

    Or a cut above the rest?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would you believe someone who says Humans are the only Intellgent life form in the Universe??

    Shame on him - I think the headline defining him as a "rock star" is perfect.

    No serious academic would make such a statement.

    He probably hasn't watched any of the thousands of UFO clips on youtube and thinks that crop circles

    were formed by two men with a rope and a plank in complete darkness after they been drinking in their local Pub.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M6vP8-SbU0

    This is just a ruse to con Joe Public into coughing up even more of his hard earned cash.

  24. Roj Blake Silver badge

    Bald

    What about those of us with no hair up top? Could we use hair from another source instead?

    1. SineWave242

      Re: Bald

      Like from the butt, for instance?

  25. Loony Moony

    I am concerned that this will contaminate a virgin planet. There may well already be some form of bacterial DNA present in the lunar strata, but its validity for any analytical purposes will be nil if the vessel carrying contaminants is fractured. So please keep your greasy locks of the moon until we have analysed it.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      It is not a planet and we have analyzed it. The Moon is biologically dead, due to the total absence of atmosphere protecting its surface from the deadly radiation of space.

      Any bacteria on the lunar surface has long since been x-rayed out of existence.

  26. Charles Smith

    Boffin's DNA?

    I helped to clean the London Flat after a certain boffin had vacated the tenancy. It is obviously very easy to leave human traces behind ;-)

  27. Disturbikus

    Great so Cox obviously knows there's a whale of a meteor headed this way soon and he's not sharing it.

    Also why in God's name has the UK got military satellites called Skynet? ... "Viene una tormenta!"

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