Self-Replication in Conway’s Game of Life

Andrew Wade has created — or discovered, if you prefer — a self-replicating pattern in Conway’s Game of Life. New Scientist reports:

Dubbed Gemini, [Wade’s] creature is made of two sets of identical structures, which sit at either end of the instruction tape. Each is a fraction of the size of the tape’s length but, made up of two constructor arms and one “destructor”, plays a key role. Gemini’s initial state contains three of these structures, plus a fourth that is incomplete.

As the simulation progresses the incomplete structure begins to grow, while the structure at the start of the tape is demolished. The original Gemini continues to disassemble as the new one emerges until after nearly 34 million generations, new life is born.

The “offspring” is identical to its parent, but it has shifted up and slightly to the left — another first for Life: every other known pattern moves along one of the eight compass points, but Gemini travels across the grid in a north by north-west direction.

New Scientist

Via Slashdot.

Conway’s Game of Life @ Wikipedia

I first encountered Conway’s game in my late teens, which is to say the late seventies. It fascinated me then, and it still has a certain magical hold over my imagination.