one-off at the wrist

Gosper’s Glider Gun

Every so often I love to dig out an old copy of John Horton Conway’s cellular automaton Game of Life. Maybe it’s an Autumnal thing [thoughts of sycamore seeds winging their way to earth] but the hypnotic graphics always make me somewhat nostalgic about hours spent in front of early 80’s computers [Spectrum mostly] playing simple looking [to our eyes now] but devilishly difficult games whilst drinking bucket loads of hot sweet tea into the wee hours, howling winds rattling the window panes.

Visions of some cobwebbed clunky-buttoned computer in the forgotten bowels of an ancient Polytechnic churning out Life forever, number theorist Max Cohen playing Go [Conway strangely enough first investigated his patterns using the black and white stones of a Go board] in Aronofsky’s surrealist psychological thriller Pi.

Here’s a web archived article from the greatly missed Martin Gardner from Scientific American 223 (October 1970): 120-123 about this fascinating zero-player game.


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