Monday, January 3, 2011

Origin of life spoof

As we all head back to serious work ...

A friend writes, “In case you missed it here is a snippet of Doug Axe's spoof on the self-replicating ribozymes in this paper:

Biologic Institute Announces First Self-Replicating Motor Vehicle — April 1st, 2009 by Douglas Axe

Researchers at Biologic Institute have stunned the scientific community with the announcement today of a fully functioning automobile capable of replicating itself. Although simple autocatalytic versions of self-replication have previously been demonstrated, the complexity of the system described today—complete with GPS navigation, DVD player, and onboard WiFi—has taken everyone by surprise. In the minds of many, this discovery has forever altered the once fundamental distinction between life and non-life.
Reactions from the automotive industry have, understandably, been less philosophical. One executive, who wished to remain unnamed, characterized the development as “altogether unhelpful.” An assembly plant worker was less restrained: “This is unreal… I just hope they quarantine the [expletive] things before this gets out of hand.”

According to lead scientist Otto Cloner, “In the right kind of environment the process of self-replication just takes off. I still get goose bumps watching it.” The prototype self-replicator is a slightly modified version of the popular Jeep Wrangler—unmanned. When just one of these self-propelled prototypes is placed in an appropriate environment (one lacking any other self-propelled vehicles) magic happens. Or so it seems. Dr. Cloner himself takes the more modest view that “the replicative mechanism is really quite simple when properly understood”.

For more, go here.
For the Institute’s serious work, go here.