Self Replication: How molecules can make copies of themselves

Published on Mar 24, 2015

This movie shows the spontaneous emergence of self replicating molecules, so molecules that are able to make copies of themselves. We start with simple building blocks that have two yellow ends with which they can react with other building blocks. This initially results in the formation of many different cyclic molecules. These cyclic molecules continuously exchange components between each other, to give a mixture that is at equilibrium.

Some of the molecules in the mixture that have the right ring size interact with each other and can start forming stacks. At first there is only a very small number of these stacks in solution, but they continue to grow longer by incorporating more and more of the stacking molecules. In this way the assembly of the molecules into the stacks drives the system to produce more of the very molecules that make the stack. Self replication!

When energy is provided to the system by, for example, stirring, long stacks will start to break into two. The two stacks will each grow again until they are in turn also long enough to break. In this way one stack becomes two, two become four, four become eight, eight become sixteen and so on. This result is the exponential growth of these stacks and thereby also of the molecules within them. At the end of the process all of the building blocks that were available have been converted into the self replicating molecules.

For more information see:
"Mechanosensitive Self-Replication Driven by Self-Organization"

by Jacqui M. A. Carnall, Christopher A. Waudby, Ana M. Belenguer, Marc C. A. Stuart, J?r?me J.-P. Peyralans, Sijbren Otto
19 March 2010

Animation: ICMS Animation Studio, Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Music: "Reinvent your imagination" Secession Studios, Los Angeles, USA
Narrator: Jan Sadownik
Editing: Yigit Altay