# THE MEANING OF LIFE THE COMPUTER

## Found at: 0x1bi.net:70/textfiles/file?humor/lifeinfo.hum

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```...                                                                      ...
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```...              THE MEANING OF LIFE (THE COMPUTER SIMULATION)           ...
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```...                             by TESLA'S COIL                          ...
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```...                 an explanation of Conway's famous game               ...
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```............................................................................
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```  WHAT'S LIFE?
```
```  ============
```

```  Sometime in the early seventies, a British mathematician started theorizing
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```  a simulation or game in which a model of a simple universe would be set up.
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```  The universe would be populated by cells, which could be either on or off.
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```  Simple rules would be applied repeatedly, or recursively, to these cells,
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```  and the cells would live, grow and die according to how they responded to
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```  these rules.  At first, the game was played on a checkerboard, but soon
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```  Conway found the simulated area was far to small to be of any practical
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```  value, so at a friend's advice, he turned it into a computer driven
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```  simulation.  The result is still being played with and experimented upon
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```  today.
```

```  THE RULES OF LIFE
```
```  =================
```

```  The simulation area of this game is a two-dimensional grid in which each
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```  space, or cell, can either be on or off.  In the following one-dimensional
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```  example, the first and third cells would be on and the others would be off.
```

```  |*| |*| | |
```

```  The initial pattern is referred to as the Garden-of-Eden pattern, and is
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```  usually determined randomly.
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```  Two very simple rules are applied to this pattern over and over again and
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```  these form the basis for the game.  They are:
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```  1) If a cell is on, it stays on if and only if it surrounded by two or
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```     three on neighbors
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```  2) If a cell is off, it turns on if and only if it is surrounded by exactly
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```     three on neighbors
```

```  Even though these patterns seem very limited, they give rise to a myraid of
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```  shapes, patterns and forms in very little time.  Each time the rules are
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```  applied to the grid, it is said that a generation has passed.
```

```  SO WHAT HAPPENS?
```
```  ================
```

```  I knew you were going to ask that one.  If this simulation is watched on
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```  a high-speed computer, it appears that the cells are dying out of lonliness
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```  or overpopulation and are growing only because of ideal conditions.  It
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```  would seem to many people that the conditions favoring birth are so
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```  outweighed by the conditions favoring death that all the cells would soon
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```  die out.  This only happens rarely, and I have never seen it happen even
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```  though I have run various Life simulations for months.  On any simulation
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```  in a limited size field, stability or patterned growth eventually occurs,
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```  even though it may take thousands of generations.  Lets take a very simple
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```  example.  Periods will represent off cells and O's will represent on cells.
```

```  Generation One          Generation Two          Every Next Genration
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```      .....                   .....                     .....
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```      .OO..                   .OO..                     .OO..
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```      ..O..                   .OO..                     .OO..
```

```  In the first generation, each on cell is touching exactly two other on
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```  cells, so none die from overpopulation or lonliness.  However, one off
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```  cell is touching exacly three on cells, so it turns on, forming the most
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```  common life pattern: the block.  In generation two, none of the on cells
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```  are touching more then three yet less then two other on cells, so none die.
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```  And no off cells are touching exactly three on cells, so there are no new
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```  births.  It is said that the form has reached stability and there will be
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```  no further changes unless it interacts with another pattern.
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```  The last pattern, the block, is called a still-life because it never
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```  changes, the next most common type of pattern is called the oscillator.
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```  THE OSCILLATOR
```
```  ==============
```

```  Like I said, the most common type of patter is the still life, but there is
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```  another kind of pattern which changes regularly and returns to its original
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```  form and starts the cycle again.  It is called the oscillator.  One type
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```  of oscillator which occurs commonly is called the blinker, and it is the
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```  most common and simplest changing form in Life.  Here it is:
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```  Generation One           Generation Two        Generation Three
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```      .....                    .....                 .....
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```      ..O..                    .....                 ..O..
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```      ..O..                    .OOO.                 ..O..
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```      ..O..                    .....                 ..O..
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```      .....                    .....                 .....
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```  In the first generation, the top and the bottom cells both die out from
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```  lonliness, and the middle cell survives.  At the same time, new cells are
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```  born on the sides of the blinker because they touch exactly three on cells.
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```  In generation two, the same thing happens, but is rotated 90 degrees: The
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```  two side cells die and new cells are born on the top and the bottom while
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```  the middle cell survives.  The third generation, of course, is identical to
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```  the first generation.
```

```  It has been proven that there an unlimited number of different still lifes
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```  and oscillators.
```

```  GLIDERS AND SPACESHIPS
```
```  ======================
```

```  While the most basic of the Life patterns remain in the same location,
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```  there are many that are mobile.  Of course, the cells do not actually
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```  move, but new ones are born and old ones die in such a way as to create the
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```  illusion of motion.  The simplest example of this is the glider, which was
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```  discovered by accident.
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```  Generation One   Generation Two  Generation Three   Generation Four
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```     .......          .......          .......           .......
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```     .......          .......          .......           .......
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```     ...O...          .......          .......           .......
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```     ....O..          ..O.O..          ....O..           ...O...
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```     ..OOO..          ...OO..          ..O.O..           ....OO.
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```     .......          ...O...          ...OO..           ...OO..
```

```  Generation Five
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```     .......          The glider very much resembles an oscillator in that
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```     .......          its basic shape returns to its original form after a
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```     .......          fixed amount time, however the glider does change
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```     ....O..          position.  Given time, it will cross any space, so long
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```     .....O.          as there is no obstacle in its path.
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```     ...OOO.
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```     .......
```

```  Another similair type of pattern is called the spaceship.  It too was
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```  discovered by accident while tracking a Life pattern.  It goes through a
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```  period where it has appeared to be flipped up-side-down and then goes back
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```  to its original form in a different position.  Here it is:
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```  Generation One    Generation Two    Generation Three     Generation Four
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```    ..........        ..........         ..........          ..........
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```    ..........        ..........         ..........          ..........
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```    ..........        ..........         ..........          ..........
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```    ......O...        ..........         ..........          .....OOO..
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```    .......O..        ......OO..         ....OOOOO.          ....OOOOO.
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```    ..O....O..        ...OOO.OO.         ...O....O.          ....OOO.OO
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```    ...OOOOO..        ...OOOOO..         ........O.          .......OO.
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```    ..........        ....OOO...         ...O...O..          ..........
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```    ..........        ..........         .....O....          ..........
```

```  Generation Five
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```    ..........
```
```    ..........
```
```    ..........
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```    ........O.
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```    .........O
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```    ..O......O
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```    ...OOOOOOO
```

```  PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF LIFE SIMULATIONS
```
```  ==========================================
```

```  I know what you're saying:"What POSSIBLE practical applications could there
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```  be for this mathematical curiousity?"  Well, there aren't any.
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```  PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF LIFE SIMULATIONS IN THE FUTURE
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```  ========================================================
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```  The exciting thing about Life's future is that someday it could by used
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```  to create a simulation of the Universe.  As soon as the Grand Unified
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```  Theory (GUT), which explains the one force behind the interaction of matter
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```  and energy, comes into existance, neat things could happen.  We could take
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```  our Cray 3000 and program it with the initial pattern of matter and energy
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```  that existed before the Big Bang, and apply the simple rules of GUT, then
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```  sit back and watch the universe evolve.
```

```  A FINAL WORD AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
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```  =================================
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```  This measly text file has been meant as a short introduction to Life.
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```  The best way to learn about it is through experimentation, and because
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```  it is such a new field, its really easy to discover something nobody has
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```  ever seen before.
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```  I'd like to thank everybody who helped me with this file, but I work alone.
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