Replication is a general word for making a copy. Self-replication is a process by which a thing might make a copy of itself. Biological cells, in suitable environments, reproduce by cell division. The process is self-organising, given the basic machinery of a cell. During cell division, DNA is replicated and can be transmitted to offspring during reproduction.
Other kinds of replication occur. RNA viruses use the mechanism of a cell to replicate their own RNA strand and make its protein coat. Retroviruses are one of most important RNA viruses; there are a number of other types. Viruses can only reproduce by taking over the reproductive machinery of cells through a process of infection. Computer viruses reproduce using the hardware and software already present on computers.
Memes reproduce using the human mind and culture as their reproductive machinery.
- von Neumann, J., 1966, The Theory of Self-reproducing Automata, A. Burks, ed., Univ. of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL.
- Kenyon, R., Self-replicating tilings, in: Symbolic Dynamics and Applications (P. Walters, ed.) Contemporary Math. vol. 135 (1992), 239-264.
- http://www.cs.bgu.ac.il/~sipper/selfrep/ The Artificial Self-Replication Page