the DNA Resequencer, also called the Genetic manipulation device', was the central device of a plot arc involving the artificial high-speed evolution of human characters. Characters that had been "resequenced" were described as arriving at an ultra-extreme state of human advancement, granting them what appeared to be superhuman powers. First appearing in the episode "Metamorphosis", it established a connection between evolution and spirituality in the show.
In Stargate, the device was used almost solely by the villains and the antagonists of the show. When first introduced in SG-1, the primary enemy using the device was a parasitic race bent on galactic domination known as Goa'uld who used humans as biological hosts. The Goa'uld were attempting to use the machine to create humans with superpowers to take as hosts. Some characters in the show call a human in this advanced state a "hok-taur" (a Goa'uld slang combination of the words "hok" meaning advanced and "tau'ri" meaning human). The Goa'uld were shown using the technology, however, they did not develop the technology. A key character and member of SG-1, Samantha Carter, hypothesised, and it was later confirmed, that it was technology built by the Ancients. Carter's theory was later proven in the series when a replica of the device was used by Anubis, who obtained this technology from the Ancient knowledge he received when Oma Desala helped him to ascend.
The show explained that the device worked by altering a subject's DNA and consequently increasing their brain activity from roughly 10% up to 90%. In the episode "Prophecy", it was stated that after the character Jonas Quinn used the device, a tumor developed in his brain, which consisted of neurons which were five times more densely packed than normal. Depending on the length of time for which the machine was used, various characters (solely due to the increased brain functionality), were shown to have abilities such as telekinesis and telepathy, super-human senses and strength, supernatural health and self healing, perfect memory, and the power to heal by touch. This supernatural development was core to further plots in the show. The show's Ascended beings (spiritual, god-like beings living on a "higher plane of existence"), possessed similar supernatural abilities of the same order but in far more extreme magnitudes and proficiency. It was confirmed in Season 9 of SG-1, that through extreme evolution, such as that provided by the DNA Resequencer, a being would gradually acquire Ascended powers until genuinely Ascending themselves. This solidified the idea that Ascension was the evolutionary target of life in the Stargate universe. This also indicated that many of the Ancients may have possessed the abilities granted by the DNA Resequencer and many may have used it to ascend rather than natural evolution.
In other science fiction, genetic and neural upgrades have been administered to enhance an individual's abilities, but none to the degree of the Stargate series. Fiction usually explains their upgrades using the "10% myth"; the saying that humans use 10% of their brains and if more parts are activated, a person will gain superhuman abilities and increased intellect. However, the most widely accepted modern scientific theories, contrary to popular belief, state the 10% myth to be false.
Technological uses in the Stargate universe
In Stargate SG-1, the DNA resequencer has various uses. The devices is shown to scan a subject's physiology using green lasers that allow it to perform a multitude of tasks, both beneficial and harmful. Among other uses, the device was stated or shown to advance people's development, increase their neurological capabilities and improve their health. One character, Nirrti, also used the device to make people into biological time bombs. The main, and most useful, purpose shown in the Stargate universe has been to advance humans, giving them extraordinary abilities and eventually ascension.
Advancing and ascending humans
In the Stargate universe, the urban legend that the typical human brain is usually between 5 and 10 percent active at any given moment is true. The Ancients, in contrast, were more advanced and had brains that were at least 80-90 percent active. The DNA Resequencer may have been a factor responsible for this. The alterations made by the machine evolve a human (or Ancient) to a state closer to that of ascension. Before ascension, as the user's brain evolved, their intelligence increased. It has also been shown that the user can obtain supernatural abilities. The machine can give the user increased health and regenerative abilities, a perfect memory, telekinesis and telepathy, the power to heal by touch, and super human senses and strength. In the case of Jonas Quinn, it gave him precognition. This may be the reason many, if not all, Ancients had these abilities. Several have demonstrated use of such abilities, but it is not known whether all Ancients possessed them. In the series, once the device evolves someone to a state where their brain is 90% active, they can ascend. Many, if not all, Ancients already had astoundingly high mental capability and were able to ascend without the machine. If all Ancients were capable of ascending without the machine's functionality, the only uses for it would be those listed below. Otherwise, some may have used the machine to ascend.
Besides making super-advanced humans and ascending people, the machine was shown to have other uses. It is capable of giving people the Ancient Technology Activation gene and could be used to repair biological flaws in a person. This may be one reason the Ancients were shown to have had almost completely perfect health (excepting the plague they suffered in the Milky Way). Other contributing factors to their health could be their healing device introduced in season seven or just their extreme state of evolution. However, many Ancients were evolved so far that they could ascend without the machine.
In the SG1 episodes "Full Circle" and "Threads", it was stated that the Ancients were researching and experimenting with ascension before they actually ascended. In the Stargate Atlantis episode "Hide and Seek", research was actually found. Many have speculated that the DNA Resequencer may have been used as part of that research. In season nine, SG-1 was able to use a subcomponent of the machine as a brain scanner (see Anubis use section for details). Another more destructive use of the machine is liquification of a person as demonstrated by Niriti in season six. A time can be set within one's DNA by the DNA Resequencer for a person's body to turn into water.
In the episode "Epiphany", a time dilation field is discovered that was intended to allow its inhabitants time to ascend "on their own". This implies that in the Stargate universe, humans do have the ability to evolve and ascend without the machine. The humans in "Epiphany" gained the powers which had only been seen previously in beings who used the DNA resequencer and even managed to ascend without the actual device. However, these people were shown to be spiritual fanatics, who devoted their entire lives to the pursuit of ascension and purity of spirit. So, in order for a person to ascend without their brain being 90% active, it takes work, devotion, and this "purity" (see ascension for the difference between spiritual and evolutionary).
In addition, if humans can ascend without the machine, the logistics of the show dictate many Ancients could have easily ascended without the machine. As shown in other episodes, many of the Ancients obtained 90% brain activity by means of natural evolution and intellectual development, not technology. These Ancients could have ascended through evolution. Ancients without the DNA resequencer or the necessary mental capability may have used spiritual channels to ascend.
In the episode "The Fifth Race", the Repository of the Ancients caused O'Neill's brain accelerate to this 90% state in order for him to handle the immense amount of information it held. O'Neill did not ascend nor was ascension even mentioned. This leads to the conclusion that further conditions, even more than high brain activity, must apply. However, at this point in the series, the concept of ascension was not introduced yet and could simply be a mistake by the writers. After Jack had the repository downloaded into his head again in the episode "Lost City, Part 2", he gained the Ancient healing ability (curing by touch), and demonstrated it when he cured Bra'tac. It can hypothesized that these abilities are a natural by-product of Ancient knowledge and/or improved mental activity or the repository itself was somehow embedded with the DNA Resequencer technology. However, this was never explained in detail.
In the episode "Frozen", an Ancient was unearthed who was shown to possess the abilities to rapidly self-heal and to heal others by touch. Her neural scan showed that parts of her brain almost identically matched those of Cassandra, after she had developed telekinetic abilities (as part of Nirrti's experimentation to create a Hok'tar prior to her discovery of the DNA Resequencer in the episode "Rite of Passage"), and those of O'Neill, after he had the Repository of the Ancients downloaded into his mind in the episode "The Fifth Race". Although not explained, it is possible the Ancient woman had used the DNA Resequencer or a similar technological method (such as the one Nirrti used on Cassandra). However, it is unlikely that she used the Repository of the Ancients since she likely already possessed the knowledge it had to offer. In other episodes, it has been implied that Ancients reached an extremely advanced state without the aid of technology. She may not have needed technology to obtain her abilities. Since the show stated that the scans of Cassandra and O'Neill matched those of the Ancient woman, logic dictates that they also matched each others. This is further evidence that in Stargate, the technology governing the Repository of the Ancients and technologies required to gain telekinetic abilities are closely related.
In the episode Tao of Rodney, the Atlantis Expedition discovers a chamber within the city that held a device that was capable of 'evolving' individuals that activated the device. The 'enhancements' would bring an ordinary human or Ancient to the brink of evolution where they would gain increased intelligence, telepathy, telekinesis as well as other similar abilities. These individuals would continue to evolve until their bodies would shut down as they were no longer capable of sustaining life functions. The participant would have a choice between dying or ascending with a minority of Ancients (that used the resequencer) achieving the latter. This was due to each persons DNA being unique and that a set sample of the original pre-evolved DNA sequence would need to be present in order to achieve a reversal of the devices effects.
The device appeared far different compared to the DNA Resequencer with a person standing on the platform being engulfed by a spiralling green form of energy.
Stargate plotlines in which the technology appeared
In Stargate, the DNA Resequencer has appeared twice. The first time was in the episode "Metamorphosis" when the Goa'uld Nirrti was using the device to try to create a more advanced host (a Hok'taur) for herself. Previously in the series, before she found the DNA Resequencer, she had been trying to create a Hok'taur through other means. The DNA Resequencer was the next step in her experimentation. The second instance in which the device appeared was in the episode "Prototype" when SG-1 discovered that Anubis was using an identical device to upgrade a clone. However, SG-1 was unable to figure out what the purpose of this experiment was. However, in a cut scene, the purpose of Khalek was stated, he was to be the first of a new warrior race developed by Anubis to be known as the Mashur, their purpose would have been to ascend and do battle against the ascended Ancients.
In the episode "Metamorphosis", the Goa'uld Nirrti, who SG-1 Stargate Command had encountered several times previously in the series, somehow obtained a DNA Resequencer and used it to manipulate the DNA of people living in a nearby village in an attempt to create more advanced humans. (Previously in the show she had been doing experimental surgery to try to obtain this goal. Cassandra was one of her test subjects.) She eventually wanted to take procure the most advanced host possible. At that point in the series, most Goa'uld were not aware of ascension. In her experimenting, she planted time bombs in many of the people and caused extreme physical deformities resulting in disease and devastation. It is possible that she did not understand the technology and the deformities were caused by accident. She used the machine to give one man telekinesis and another was given telepathy. Samantha Carter commented that she could have given other powers to other villagers. She eventually wanted to take a host with all the powers the machine could provide her with or modify her current host to those standards.
Once SG-1 was captured by the advanced beings Nirrti created, Nirrti began experimenting on them. After going through every member of SG-1 (and several members of the a Russian SG team that accompanied SG-1 on the mission), she began experimenting on Jonas Quinn. Not long after, she concluded she could make Jonas many times more powerful than anyone else she had experimented on. The reason for Jonas's advanced level was never stated, although when he first joined Stargate Command it was mentioned that he had a genius level intellect and was gifted with great abilities of learning and recall (for example, reading and memorizing all SGC mission briefings within days of his arrival). Additionally, one year later in the series (season seven in the episode "Homecoming"), Anubis commented that Jonas's physiology merited further experimentation. Whatever the reason for Jonas's advanced state, the show implied that Nirrti probably intended to take him as her host.
Afterwards, SG-1 convinced the genetically altered people that Nirrti was not actually trying to help them. A rebellion was incited and the telekinetic man choked Nirrti to death. The telepathic man, who had obtained the necessary knowledge from Nirrti to operate the DNA Resequencer, restored his people to their original state. The device was soon after destroyed.
Later on in the series (midway through season nine in the episode "Prototype"), the writers decided to bring back the DNA Resequencer. In the show on a planet designated P3X-584 a second device was discovered by SG-1 along with an advanced Human/Goa'uld-hybrid clone of Anubis, Khalek. The scene where the device was found was set in a lab comprised of Ancient architecture. There it seemed that Anubis produced a clone with virtually every characteristic of himself, even his personality and memories. Anubis then used the DNA resequencer to give Khalek extremely advanced human abilities.
The show does not make it clear why Anubis created Khalek or whether he intended for him to ascend. However, several characters discussed this uncertainty. The most plausible explanation, in this discussion, came when Teal'c commented that Anubis may have been trying to create a servant even more powerful than the Kull Warriors (a supersoldier introduced earlier in season seven). However if this were the case, it would have made little logical sense to give him the personality traits of Anubis as he would probably have been disloyal and evil (this is the opposite of the perfectly programmed Kull Warriors). Nevertheless, Khalek was so advanced and powerful that the Tau’ri were worried that he could ascend at any moment. After Khalek was found by SG-1 in the lab, he was captured and taken prisoner in the SGC. Extreme security measures were taken to prevent him from escaping. Guards were posted, force fields were erected, and a component of the DNA Resequencer was hooked up to monitor his physiology. The component, which Colonel Mitchel called the "ascendometer", was capable of displaying a subject's brain activity on a screen. Eventually Khalek attempted to escape causing damage to the SGC and killing several guards. However, he was killed in the attempt despite using many powers the DNA Resequencer gave him. Despite all his powers, the writers clearly did not make him invincible. The DNA Resequencer used to advance Khalek was captured by earth. They later used information gathered on the device and on Khalek to create a weapon to fight the Priors; an ultrasonic pulse which disables a Prior's abilities. (See "Comparison with new Stargate concepts" for more information)
Comparison with new Stargate concepts
In season nine of Stargate SG-1, the Ori and Priors were introduced and the extraordinary abilities of the Priors were demonstrated. Throughout the season, they show the Priors using many abilities similar to and some beyond those of beings modified by the DNA Resequencer. The reason Priors possess their powers is the same reason that users of the DNA Resequencer have their abilities; highly upgraded physiology, particularly neurology. It has been stated that the Priors are far more advanced than ordinary humans and are implied to be able use far more than 10 percent of their brains. The neurology of Priors and DNA Resequencer users were similar enough that in the episode "The Fourth Horseman", Samantha Carter, Doctor Lee, and other characters were able to use data on Khalek and the DNA Resequencer to create a weapon to disable a Prior's abilities. Despite the physiological similarities between the Priors and DNA Resequencer users, Priors are not upgraded by technology. The Ori themselves in "Origin" are shown to actually turn a human into a Prior almost instantly without the aid of any (visible) technology.
The Priors' abilities seem to be amplified by their staffs, whereas DNA Resequencer user's abilities are purely biological. The show does not make it clear how much of the Priors' abilities are biological as opposed to technological. Many of their more advanced abilities, the ones that surpass DNA Resequencer users, appear to emanate from their staffs. For example, when a Prior induces a healing wave, the wave appears to originate from his staff. However, this may be done unintentionally through visual effects and may not be the intention of the writers. In conclusion, season nine makes the Priors seem more powerful than the most advanced non-ascended humans created by the DNA resequencer, albeit using their staff.
The making of the DNA Resequencer for Stargate
According to the DVD director's commentary of the episode "Metamorphosis", the prop actuality consists of three components. Two of these components are physical but the third is computer generated. The first component is a pedestal that rests on the floor. The actor would stand on the pedestal. This would draw attention to the actor using the device and was also a way to show that they were using it. Above the user was the second component, an orange globe. This was what appeared to be the technological part of the device (at least the first time the device appeared).
Later on in the editing process the third component was added, a computer generated energy field which appears to paralyze the user. Additionally, computer generated representations of DNA surround the user. It should be noted that the color scheme of the DNA surrounding the user was different when Jonas Quinn was in the machine. This is further indication that he is special in the Stargate universe (see Nirrti's use section). It should also be noted that when the second DNA Resequencer was found in season nine, there was no orange globe above it. In addition, the computer generated DNA in the second device appeared far more dense and complicated then when it was displayed in the first device (see Anubis's use).
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Stargate SG-1 Story arcs. Retrieved on April 13, 2006.
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 "Metamorphosis"
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 "Prototype"
- ↑ "Children of the Gods"
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 "Rite of Passage"
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Screenplay of Metamorphosis. Retrieved on May 9, 2006.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Full Circle"
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 "Threads"
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 "Prophecy"
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 "Frozen"
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 "Maternal Instinct"
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 "The Fourth Horseman, Part 2"
- ↑ Radford, Benjamin (8 February, 2000). The Ten-Percent Myth. snopes.com. Retrieved on April 13, 2006.
- ↑ Chudler, Eric. Myths About the Brain: 10 percent and Counting. Retrieved on April 12, 2006.
- ↑ A Piece of Our Mind - About Ten Percent. The Two percent company. Retrieved on April 12, 2006.
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 "Sanctuary"
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 17.2 "Evolution"
- ↑ "Hide and Seek"
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 "Epiphany"
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 20.2 "The Fifth Race"
- ↑ "Lost City"
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 22.2 A summary of the Stargate SG-1 episode Metamorphosis. Retrieved on April 11, 2006. (Includes data on the DNA resequencer)
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 "Homecoming"
- ↑ 24.0 24.1 DVD extra - Directors Commentary on the Stargate SG-1 episode "Metamorphosis"
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 25.2 "The Fourth Horseman"
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 26.2 "Avalon, Part 2"
- ↑ 27.0 27.1 "Origin"
- ↑ "The Powers That Be"
- ↑ "Beachhead"
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