Sunday, 8 June 2014

Repology 101: Copying is ubiquitous

Copying is everywhere in biology. It is most obviously seen in DNA replication. Electrical signals are copied inside brains whenever an axon branches. Ants copy each other's paths by following pheromone trails. Copying is also the foundation of all human culture. It's reached a zenith inside computers and on the internet.

What is less widely appreciated is that copying is also ubiquitous in inorganic, non-living systems. Ripples, flame propagation, crystal growth, electrical discharges, propagating cracks, and photons hitting dust all involve copying. Copying is a fundamental part of physics. It is built into the fabric of physical law.

While there's been a science that studies copying (and some other things) in living systems (genetics) there's been little or no scientific focus on copying outside biology. It has been a dark area of science.

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