"There was a time when one old eccentric guy with a notebook could do something important to science. Now even the resources of a major university are often not enough."
This alien creature is an interesting implementation of the idea of a "bush robot," a concept developed by Hans Moravec and Robert Forward.
It turns out that Robert Heinlein had a similar idea, but not quite as "fractal", in his 1941 novel Methuselah's Children.
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