A rake is a puffer whose debris consists of spaceships. A rake is said to be forwards, backwards or sideways according to the direction of the spaceships relative to the direction of the rake. Originally the term "rake" was applied only to forward c/2 glider puffers. Many people prefer not to use this term in the case where the puffed spaceships travel parallel or anti-parallel to the puffer, as in this case they do not rake out any significant region of the Life plane (and, in contrast to "true" rakes, these puffers cannot travel in a stream and so could never be produced by a gun).
Backrake is another term for a backwards rake. Backrake 1 is a period 8 example that was found by Jason Summers. Backrake 2 is a period 12 example by David Buckingham. Other examples include the backwards version of space rake, and backrake 3.
The first rake to be constructed was the space rake sometime around 1971. It and the other early rakes had speed c/2, though rakes of other velocities have since been built. Dean Hickerson's construction of Corderships in 1991 made it easy for c/12 diagonal rakes to be built, although no one actually did this until 1998, by which time David Bell had constructed c/3 and c/5 rakes (in May 1996 and September 1997, respectively). Jason Summers constructed a 2c/5 rake in June 2000 (building on work by Paul Tooke and David Bell) and a c/4 orthogonal rake in October 2000 (based largely on reactions found by David Bell). Ivan Fomichev completed the first 2c/7 rake, the weekender distaff, on May 22, 2014. Multiple c/10 orthogonal rakes were made with copperhead technology in 2016.
The smallest possible period for a rake is believed to be 7, which could be achieved by a 3c/7 orthogonal backwards glider puffer. The smallest period found to date is 8, attained by backrake 1.
- Gabriel Nivasch. "The Caterpillar spaceship". Retrieved on 30 July 2016.
- Rake at the Life Lexicon