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.

Edge-repair spaceship

:edge-repair spaceship A spaceship which has an edge that possesses no spark and yet is able to perturb things because of its ability to repair certain types of damage to itself. The most useful examples are the following two small p3 c/3 spaceships:

Game of Life pattern ’edge-repair_spaceship_(1)’

These were found by David Bell in 1992, but the usefulness of the edge-repair property wasn't recognised until July 1997. The following diagram (showing an edge-repair spaceship deleting a Herschel) demonstrates the self-repairing action.

Game of Life pattern ’edge-repair_spaceship_(2)’

In October 2000, David Bell found that a T-tetromino component of a c/4 spaceship can also be self-repairing. Stephen Silver noticed that it could be used to delete beehives and, in November 2000, found the smallest known c/4 spaceship with this edge-repair component - in fact, two copies of the component:

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 <>