The Tree of Knowledge has been a fabled in history for many years, and originated as far back as one of two trees in the story of the Garden of Eden. While no-one has ever been able to find either tree, U.S artist Joe Davis will be attempting to grow exactly that – a real Tree of Knowledge.
In order to make it happen, Davis will be inserting a DNA-encoded version of Wikipedia pages into the DNA strain of an apple tree. Davis has called the project Malus ecclesia – a combination of Malus, the genus name for all apples, means both ‘bad, evil’ and ‘apple tree’ in Latin, and Ecclesia, which translates to ‘church’.
“The apple genome can be thought of as a seven-hundred-and-fifty-million-letter book, made of the four letters of DNA: a, t, c, and g. The process of inserting Wikipedia resembles taking a pen and writing in the margins and between the lines. All the original text is retained, and all the genes that make the apple apple-like will be spared,” explained The New Yorker.
The process of turning the Wikipedia text into the DNA of an apple is a rather complex procedure, and since DNA has a weight and size, Davis has limited space within the DNA to work with. The entire English Wikipedia website contains about two and a half billion words, but Davis will only be able to use about few thousand words – which is why he chose to use the Wikipedia entry on ‘Good and Evil’.
If the project turns out the way Davis hopes, he will be inserting different pieces of Wikipedia articles into different apple trees, which would eventually be morphed into a real Tree of Knowledge, which many apples containing different information.
“I can fit the whole Wikipedia in a small forest, in—let’s call it a very large grove. It draws together science and religion in very close proximity,” he told the New Yorker.
But it seems as those this Tree of Knowledge would be more forbidden than the original tree, as the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture as very strict rules when it comes to the consumption of genetically altered plants.