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Autocatalytic Strawberries

strawbryWarning: This post contains wild, imaginative speculation which I considered (nonetheless) pretty fun.

I was reading yesterday about autocatalytic sets – described, on Wikipedia, as “a collection of entities, each of which can be created catalytically as a whole is said to be autocatalytic.” by other entities within the set, such that as a whole, the set is able to catalyze its own production. In this way the set The example given in yesterday’s reading was the egg – an egg can produce a chicken, which is then in the business of producing more eggs. The “chicken and egg” problem is thus embodied by the notion of the autocatalytic set.

Today, I picked up my local vegetable share which had a whole bunch of strawberries in it. I cleaned them, cut the green tops off, and sliced them each in two or three parts. And then, when I was about to pop one in my mouth – I saw it. Not a tasty strawberry, but an autocatalytic set. The seeds on the outside of the strawberry are in the business of making more strawberries, which are in the business of making more strawberries, and so on and so forth.

And then I wondered: if that little seed is where thousands of generations of strawberries are destined to come from, is a single atom eventually to be the source of a future solar system? Now: re-read the first line of this post.

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