There is a major difference between the 1997 movie Gattaca and its original script. The former doesn't explain the exact goal of the space mission to Saturn's moon Titan, but the latter does. It is to find the origins of life. What screenwriter Andrew Niccol (also the director) had in mind was to connect the space mission (old tech) with what at the time, mid-'90s, was all the rage—the human genome, the sequencing of which (new tech) began in 1990 and was declared completed in 2003. The feeling at the time was that the answers of life would finally be exposed. There would be no more mysteries. Your DNA was you and your fate. This was the new mechanism. A Newtonism in space and your body. The name of the film, Gattaca, is, of course, based on four chemicals that many imagined life came down to: guanine, cytosine, adenine and thymine (G, C, A, and T).
It turns out that cutting the connection between life and space travel from the final film was right. Life is not just about the DNA molecule (the materials of which Niccol imagined came to earth from somewhere in space—panspermia); and the private and government projects to sequence the human genome did not expose life as it is but instead, took pictures of a part of it. It also turns out that the environment matters, and there is a hyper-genome that involves viral and bacterial players, including those that are specific to humans. Life is a complex process, not a hard thing (your DNA). There is more. Scientists have recently made synthetic DNA that can function with natural DNA. And so the old fixed sequence of G, C, A, and T can be doubled to form a DNA molecule. What this means is there is nothing really special (or "magic") about the "four chemicals that evolved on Earth."
Matthew Warren of Nature writes:
By adjusting these holes and prongs, the team has come up with several new pairs of bases, including a pair named S and B, and another called P and Z2. In the latest paper, they describe how they combine these four synthetic bases with the natural ones. The researchers call the resulting eight-letter language ‘hachimoji’ after the Japanese words for ‘eight’ and ‘letter’. The additional bases are each similar in shape to one of the natural four, but have variations in their bonding patterns.The implications of this research are stunning. To begin with, it shows that the DNA of life is not singular and likely accidental. It's what happened to evolve on Earth. Life as we understand it might use other chemicals and achieve the same results (hyper-matter).
This discovery has exactly the same consequences as those made by the German chemist Friedrich Wöhler in the 1820s. He synthesized urea in a lab and, as a result, revealed that biological materials are no different from non-biological ones. The line between the living and the dead does not exist. Life is not a thing but a complex process that emerges from ordinary chemistry.
Laura Foist writes:
In chemistry, we often separate the study of organic and inorganic compounds. This is because the types of reactions and how they react tend to be really different between the two fields of chemistry. They are so different, in fact, that prior to the 1820s scientists believed that there was something fundamentally different between organic and inorganic compounds. They believed that the only way that something could become organic was through a 'vital force' which was found in living creatures. This entire belief was completely dispelled when Friedrich Wohler created urea from non-organic compounds.Again, there was, from the point of materials, nothing special about life. There was no magic, or, put another way, code programming by god. Synthesized DNA removes one more mist from what remains to be the wonder of life. It has to be entirely reconsidered and along lines that abandon the notion of thing-ness and divine-ness. This does not mean there is no room for metaphysics (the effort to synthesizes the many parts of life into a general, explanatory system) or even God (the opposite of metaphysics). It just means that it's all much weirder (and disorienting) than we think it is, and the way we think was structured by, fundamentally (but apparently not finally), a linguistic system that evolved over a long span of time to make sense of the direct challenges of contatus (the striving to exist) , not the indirect ones, like microorganism or deep space. If there is a God, you will not find Him or Her in the word. You will only find Darwin in human language.