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.


:eater1 (p1) Usually simply called an eater, and also called a fishhook.

Game of Life pattern ’eater1_(1)’

This eater can be constructed using a simple two-glider collision, as shown in stamp collection. It is often modified in various ways, or welded to other objects, to allow tighter packing of circuits or to allow a signal stream to pass close by. See clearance for an eater1 variant that is 1hd shorter to the southeast than the standard fishhook form. An eater1 can also be used as a 90-degree one-time turner.

Its ability to eat various objects was discovered by Bill Gosper in 1971. The fishhook eater can consume a glider, a LWSS, and a MWSS as shown below. It is not able to consume an HWSS, however. See honey bit or killer toads for that.

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 <>