Tom sat for a moment trying to come up with some options when Sally and Bill entered. “Can we talk to you for a moment,” Sally asked?
“Absolutely,” said Joan.
“I’ve been looking at the DNA of the Desert Beach crew. Each crew member had two DNA samples done before launch; one at 12 months prior and then one just before launch. Then the samples are compared with another sample after return to monitor for any radiation damage. The crew that we brought back had a sample done 12 months prior and then just before launch, and I have compared them with our DNA now. The DNA is taken over the previous months before launch matches with ours right now. We had a couple of scientists who came to Desert Beach for a short period to do research and then they came back to Earth recently. But, those that launched after us spent some time on the moon then returned and died. When we got back, I checked on them to verify what happened. When I compare their DNA from 12 months before launch, against their DNA at launch and finally the DNA of their remains, I found there were changes. Their DNA just before launch was different from their DNA 12-month sample. It isn’t a minor change, of only about .5% and I’m not sure of the significance yet, but at least it’s a clue.”
“How do you think it was introduced?”
“Most likely it was a subtle Virus that altered our DNA; Virus’ do it all the time. If it was a virus and it caused a somatic or gene-level mutation, it could have caused big problems. If it were a virus, then it would have the same DNA marker and with a little research we might be able to find some way to become resistant to the virus.”
“Why didn’t they pick up on this?”
“I suspect they were on the right path, but everything happened so quickly. Even if I’m right, it will take me a while to put all of the pieces together. They just didn’t have enough time.”
“Ok, if some virus caused this, why did it break out all over the world at the same time? It's like some kind of switch was thrown.”
“We have found that DNA can be changed, or perhaps turned on by certain external influences; like magnetic fields. Perhaps some very short pulse turned the mutation on. It might have been a pulse that was too short to be noticed, but enough to flip the switch.”
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