Play John Conway’s Game of Life

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Life Lexicon

(CC BY-SA 3.0)

This Life lexicon is compiled by Stephen A. Silver from various sources and may be copied, modified and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported licence. See the original credit page for all credits and the original download location. The styling has been adjusted to fit this website.


:clearance In signal circuitry, the distance from an edge shooter output lane to the last unobstructed lane adjacent to the edge-shooter circuitry. For example, an Fx119 inserter has an unusually high 27hd clearance.

Also, oscillator and eater variants may be said to have better clearance if they allow gliders or other signals to pass closer to them than the standard variant allows. The following high-clearance eater1 variant by Karel Suhajda allows gliders to pass one lane closer on the southeast side, than is allowed by the standard fishhook shape.

Game of Life pattern ’clearance’

This is considered to be a variant of the eater1 because the reaction's rotor is exactly the same, even though three cells in this variant are too overpopulated to allow a birth, instead of underpopulated as in a standard eater1 glider-eating reaction.

John Conway’s Game of Life

The Game of Life is not your typical computer game. It is a cellular automaton, and was invented by Cambridge mathematician John Conway.

This game became widely known when it was mentioned in an article published by Scientific American in 1970. It consists of a collection of cells which, based on a few mathematical rules, can live, die or multiply. Depending on the initial conditions, the cells form various patterns throughout the course of the game.


For a space that is populated:

Each cell with one or no neighbors dies, as if by solitude.

Each cell with four or more neighbors dies, as if by overpopulation.

Each cell with two or three neighbors survives.

For a space that is empty or unpopulated

Each cell with three neighbors becomes populated.

The Controls

Choose a pattern from the lexicon or make one yourself by clicking on the cells. The 'Start' button advances the game by several generations (each new generation corresponding to one iteration of the rules).

More information

In the first video, from Stephen Hawkings’ documentary The Meaning of Life, the rules are explained, in the second, John Conway himself talks about the Game of Life.

Stephen Hawkings The Meaning of Life (John Conway's Game of Life segment) Inventing Game of Life (John Conway) - Numberphile

The Guardian published a nice article about John Conway.

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Implemented by Edwin Martin <>