This week's featured article
| A polyomino (or simply omino) is a finite collection of orthogonally connected cells. Conway's early investigations of Life and other cellular automata involved tracking the histories of small polyominoes, this being a reasonable way to ascertain the typical behaviour of different cellular automata when the patterns had to be evolved by hand rather than by computer. Polyominoes have no special significance in Life, but their extensive study during the early years lead to a number of important discoveries and has influenced the terminology of Life.
It is possible for a polyomino to be an oscillator. In fact, there are infinitely many examples of such polyominoes, including the cross and its larger analogues. The only other known examples are the block (which has period 1), the blinker, the toad, the star and (in two different phases) the pentadecathlon.
A polyomino can also be a spaceship, though the only known examples are the lightweight spaceship, the middleweight spaceship, and the heavyweight spaceship.
| The LifeWiki contains one of the most comprehensive catalogues of patterns available on the internet. Within it you will find:
Did you know...
- ... that the block-laying switch engine and the glider-producing switch engine (and various combinations of two switch engines) are the only infinitely-growing patterns that are known to have ever occurred naturally from an asymmetric random starting configuration?
- ... that oscillators are known that oscillate at all periods other than 19, 23, 34, 38 and 41?
- ... that the pentadecathlon and the blinker are the only known oscillators that are polyominos in more than one phase?
- ... that it is impossible for a period 3 oscillator to be a phoenix?
- ... that the methuselah with the longest known lifespan, 40514M, lasts for over 40,000 generations before stabilizing? The second-place holder, Fred, runs for over 35,000 ticks.
- ... that replicators with quadratic population growth are known to exist in Conway's Game of Life, but none have yet been found?
- ... that the first known period 37 and 51 oscillators were found in 2009?
- ... that a pattern whose population grows without bound but does not tend to infinity is known as a sawtooth?
- ... that there are over 6.5 million distinct strict still lifes with 24 or fewer cells?
- ... that some infinitely-growing patterns can be constructed with as few as three gliders?