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Living machinesA handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems$
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Tony J. Prescott, Nathan Lepora, and Paul F.M.J Verschure

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199674923

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199674923.001.0001

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(p.73) Chapter 7 Reproduction
Living machines

Matthew S. Moses

Gregory S. Chirikjian

Oxford University Press

Computing pioneer and polymath John von Neumann introduced the concept of a Universal Constructor as part of his effort to develop a mathematical theory describing living organisms. A Universal Constructor is a kinematic machine able to manipulate and assemble primitive building blocks. Von Neumann showed how this hypothetical constructor, being itself composed of the same primitive blocks, could self-reproduce and evolve. Remarkably, although this model system pre-dates the discovery of the genetic code, it applies to cell molecular biology as well as man-made machines. This chapter describes some key laboratory demonstrations related to universal construction and machine self-reproduction, and discusses parallels between reproduction processes in machines and biological cells.

Keywords:   robot, 3D printer, universal constructor, self-assembly, self-reproduction, molecular biology, ribosome, DNA, RNA

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