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Staff (Retired)
What is Life?

Wikipedia has a fine description of the rules for Conway's cellular automaton, Life, also described in 1970 in Scientific American. Briefly, it is a rectangular grid of ones and zeros, where the cells in each new generation are based on how crowded the neighborhood was in the previous generation. The attached JSL demonstrates a glider gun. There are much faster algorithms, and there are simpler ones too; this one falls in the middle.

lifeSquare.gifGosper's glider gun

Here's a 4K video made by adding some coloring rules and tossing in patterns randomly chosen from Watch it if you are having trouble falling asleep and have bandwidth to burn, it's 40+ minutes. There is a major plot twist about three minutes from the end.