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.

Honey bit

:honey bit A block and pond constellation used in the OTCA metapixel by Brice Due in 2006, to store and retrieve a bit of data - specifically, the presence or absence of a neighbor metacell. The "0" state of the honey bit memory unit is a simple beehive, which is also the source of the name.

An input glider collides with the beehive to convert it into the honey bit constellation, which can be thought of as a value of "1" stored in the memory unit. A passing LWSS can then test for the presence of the pond. If a collision occurs, the LWSS and the honey bit constellation are mutually annihilated, leaving just the original beehive. Below is the honeybit constellation with the two reactions occurring in the opposite order - test, then reset.

Game of Life pattern ’honey_bit_(1)’

If the pond is not present, the LWSS passes by the beehive without affecting it. Thus a test input has an output for the "0" case, but not for the "1" case. For an alternative memory-unit mechanism with both "0" and "1" outputs, see demultiplexer.

The honey bit is also an interesting eater for the HWSS as shown below. An HWSS colliding with the pond happens to create the exact same reset glider used in the above memory unit.

Game of Life pattern ’honey_bit_(2)’

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 <>