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.

Stabilized switch engine

:stabilized switch engine A single switch engine which survives indefinitely by interacting with the appropriate exhaust such that it prevents the engine from ever being destroyed.

The only known types of stabilized switch engines were found by Charles Corderman soon after he discovered the switch engine itself. There is a p288 block-laying type (the more common of the two) and the p384 glider-producing type. These two puffers are the most natural infinite growth patterns in Life. As of June 2018 they are the basis for every infinite growth pattern ever seen to occur from a random asymmetric soup, even after trillions of census results by apgsearch and similar projects.

Patterns giving rise to block-laying switch engines can be seen under infinite growth, and one giving rise to a glider-producing switch engine is shown under time bomb.

Here is the block-laying type showing its distinctive zig-zag trail of blocks.

Game of Life pattern ’stabilized_switch_engine’

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.

Rules

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 <>