The Enigma of DNA

The words code and cipher are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. When I was a small buckaroo, my parents used to spell out words in my presence. That code was abandoned when I learned it myself. 

Codes have meanings, often substituting words or phrases, not necessarily containing secrets. (Morse code is not a secret in itself.) The spy trope where one says, "It will be sunny in Hyde Park", receives the reply, "Estelle is flying to Dresden that day", established contact. Each knew the code. Ciphers are a different species.

The evolution-defying language of DNA is extremely complex and can be compared to codes and ciphers. Here is a simplified view of this marvel.
Lorenz-SZ42 cipher machine via Matt Crypto, modified with DNA clipart
Ciphers usually involve symbols, often replacing letters in words with other letters, numbers, and so on. A simple cypher would be if I left a note for my wife where all the letters are shifted over three: E becomes H, T becomes W — you get the idea. Sometimes a cipher contains a code as well. The message looks like nonsense until it is deciphered, but the result is, "Standard transmission." Now that needs a codebook. The Charles Darwin Club Secret Decoder Ring™ may be of assistance.

Essentially, an enigma is something puzzling, inexplicable, or having a hidden meaning. (It is sometimes used to describe people.) In World War 2, the Germans had a cipher machine that was called Enigma. It was build by Edward Nigma, who signed his work with his first initial and last name —

"Stop being a joker, Cowboy Bob!"

Just seeing if you were paying attention. Enigmas can involve codes and ciphers. In yesterday's post, we saw that DNA is being developed for information storage, but let's examine this enigmatic cipher that affirms the work of the Master Engineer. While there are many more technical papers, the article linked below discusses codes, ciphers, and the specified complexity of the DNA language for us reg'lar folks.
. . . if it takes intelligence to crack a code or puzzle, then how much more intelligence did it take to create it in the first place? For scientists studying the world today, one of the greatest challenges in understanding the creatures in it involves unlocking the remaining mysteries of the greatest word puzzle that has ever been made: the incredibly complex coded language system known as DNA. Many of them ponder its origin and want to know whether there are clues within it that can answer that.

Broadly speaking, there are only two options to choose from as to where it could have come from. It either evolved naturalistically through material processes (involving no mind in its creation), or it was created by God. Many scientists today adhere to the story of evolution as to the origin of living things, while some say this is a riddle that can never be solved. Some say there’s no way to know if God exists or not. Some feel intimidated and want to leave it to “experts” to decide. . . . Let’s take a look at just a few things and see if we can solve this puzzle.

As you can see, this article is written on a conversational level. I'd be much obliged if y'all would read the whole thing at "Enigma: Unlocking the Greatest Puzzle of All Time".