Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute who are longing for the simpler times of four billion years ago claim to have recreated the early conditions that triggered life on earth. In the lab. They're playing No Man's Sky for real.
The TSRI says it's quite near to perfecting the "RNA World" of the early earth, synthesising a ribozyme that can clone its own RNA in the proper fashion; which is sort of how people think early forms of complex life first appeared.
It's all a bit baffling, to be honest, but seems to revolve around polymerase ribozyme 24-3; a thing that can manage both RNA synthesis and RNA replication, and is able to copy the RNAs of some two dozen nucleotides and, eventually, reach the key exponential replication level. Which... is... or might be... how it works.
Please don't forward this to any scientist friends you might have, as the chances of us having correctly paraphrased the actual paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and that image up there are really quite remote as it was very hard. [Phys]