How to achieve artistic immortality
…now a Canadian writer is using science to create a poem that could live forever..
Christian Bök, an experimental poet and associate professor of English at the University of Calgary, is working on a piece he plans to encipher and insert into the genetic code of an "extremophile" bacterium, one that is tough enough to survive conditions that would wipe out the human race.
He notes that others have already stored enciphered text in strands of bacterial DNA, including the lyrics to It's a Small World After All. But his poem will be the first that actually contains instructions for a protein or, as he sees it, a second poem.
That is from a piece by Anne McIlroy in the 5 September Globe and Mail; the article is not yet on-line. "Each letter of the alphabet is assigned to a tiny piece of DNA that codes for an amino acid…", which limits the vocabulary. It is noted that the author is having trouble coming up with the fifty words or so which deserve immortality. Here is background information on the poet. You can follow his tweets here.
I will make the more general observation that Canadian newspapers remain underblogged.