“the replicators”

(<< good title for a horror movie!)

chapter 2 of “The Selfish Gene” — all about how (we imagine that) genes, i.e. replicators, first got going in the primordial soup (or wherever). good stuff! (of course, we humans — meaning craig venter — are now making replicators from scratch! cool.)

but, i really liked this. something on which to meditate [pg. 12]:

“Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ is really a special case of a more general law of survival of the stable. The universe is populated by stable things. A stable thing is a collection of atoms that is permanent enough or common enough to deserve a name. It may be a uniqe collection of atoms, such as the Matterhorn, that lasts long enough to be worth naming. Or it may be a class of entities, such a rain drops, that come into existence at a sufficiently high rate to deserve a collective name, even if any one of them is short-lived. The things that we see around us, and which we think of as needing explanation — rocks, galaxies, ocean waves — are all, to a greater or lesser extent, stable patterns of atoms.”

“survival of the fittest” just a subset of “survival of the stable.” neat!

previously: “the selfish gene”

(note: comments do not require an email. eeek! replicators!)


  1. Survival of the stable would also include all the chemical elements (and their isotopes) found in nature. And of the whole universe itself, which depends on a delicate balance of the strength of gravity against the rate of expansion.

    The difference with living things of course is that they are stable, but not too stable.


  2. @luke – “Survival of the stable would also include all the chemical elements (and their isotopes) found in nature.”

    absolutely! that’s exactly what dawkins was talking about — and that was, more or less, his lead-in to how “replicators” (eventually genes or genetic coding) evolved — first as bits of chemicals floating around in a primordial soup (if that’s how it went) — and then some accidentally developing this replication feature — and then … well, here we are! (^_^)

    (here we are discussing ourselves — that’s really bizarre if you think about it.)


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