BOC, thanks I spent a really enjoyable afternoon studying this. Just some highlights that got me thinking :-
Explaining the chemical substate of life and claiming it as a solution to life's origin is like pointing to silicon and copper as an explanation to the goings-on inside a computer.
...The real challenge of life's origin is thus to explain how instructional information control systems emerge naturally and spontaneously from mere molecular dynamics.
...Von Nuemann appended a ''supervisory unit'' to his automata whose task is to supervise which of these two roles the blueprint must play at a given time thereby ensuring that the blueprint is treated both as an algorithm to be read-out and as a structure to be copied, depending on the context.
...To be functional over generations, a complete self-replicating automaton must therefore consist of three components : a UC (universal constructor), an (instructional) blueprint, and a supervisory unit.
...From the insights provided by molecular biology over the last 50 years, we can now identify that all life funcions in a manner akin to von Neumann automaton where DNA provides a (partial) algorithm, ribosomes act as the core of the universal constructor and DNA polymerases, (along with a suite of other molecular machinery) play the role of supervisory unit.
...The algorithm itslef is therefore highly delocalized, distributrd inextricably throughout the very physical system it encodes. Moreover, although the ribosomes provide a rough approximation for a universal constructor, universal constructionin living cells requires a host of distributed mechanisms for reproducing an entire cell.
...Clearly in an organism the algorithm cannot be decomposed and stored in simple sequential digital form to be read out by an appropriate machine in the manner envisioned by Turing and von Neumann for their devices.
...Schrodinger postulated the genetic material must be some sort of aperiodic crystal.