Evolution. It’s played a central conceptual and practical role in the RepRap project that has spawned much of the new wave of prosumer desktop 3D printers. Adrian Bowyer’s 2005-incepted project was booted-up with an evolutionary process of generational progress and natural selection as the foundation.
Human reason is the basis of a natural selection process that augments, hones and refines new 3D printers in the RepRap model — self replicating machines: evolved by permutations of the possible, adapted by the practical. Now, the RepRap printer model has been used in a 3D printed machine that enacts a fully-automated chemical evolutionary process that holds the premise of discovering the missing link between the complex-data-coded first living cells and their chemical precursers. Evolving machines mechanising evolution.
Using a RepRap 3D printer adapted using parts printed by a RepRap 3D printer, a team of chemists led by Professor Lee Cronin at Glasgow University, Scotland, UK, have successfully created a machine that automates evolutionary processes for the natural selection of behavioural chemical ‘synthetic cells’. The cells are kept alive – the definition of life being intrinsic here – by the machine, and processed in an artificial evolutionary process: at the level of chemicals, without DNA. The robotic machine is fully automated, it sets up the experiment, conducts the experiment, collects the results from the experiment, and even cleans itself in preparation between generational stages of the experiment. The machine, process, and early results are published in an open access paper at Nature Communications. … (Read more)