Intelligent Design Researchers at Biologic Institute Announce Self-Replicating Vehicle
Well, sort of.
From Biologic's Perspectives:
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.
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".
To better explain the replicative mechanism, check out the diagram below:
Despite the April fun, there's a serious point which Biologic director Douglas Axe makes clear:
Believe it or not there's a serious point here having to do with scientific studies of self-replication and the origin of life. Consider the recent Science paper by Tracey Lincoln and Gerald Joyce. The paper describes RNA chains about 70 nucleotides long that produce copies of themselves when placed in the right kind of mixture. The authors use the term "cross-replication" to describe this because they found that it works best with two distinct RNA chains, each of which catalyzes formation of the other one from supplied precursors. But since either of these RNAs could potentially kick the process off (by forming the other), much of the commentary on this widely publicized study refers to it as an example of self-replication.
While funny, the Jeep-replicators are a pretty good metaphor for what we see being claimed as the solution to the problems facing origin-of-life research when intelligence is absent consideration. Learn more about it here.