Queen bee shuttle

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Queen bee shuttle
x = 22, y = 7, rule = B3/S23 9bo$7bobo$6bobo$2o3bo2bo11b2o$2o4bobo11b2o$7bobo$9bo! #C [[ THUMBSIZE 2 THEME 6 GRID GRIDMAJOR 0 SUPPRESS THUMBLAUNCH ]] #C [[ AUTOSTART ]] #C [[ THUMBSIZE 2 ZOOM 16 GPS 10 ]]
Pattern type Oscillator
Oscillator type Shuttle
Family Queen bee shuttle
Number of cells 20
Bounding box 22×7
Frequency class 28.4
Period 30
Mod 15
Heat 17.9
Volatility 0.96
Strict volatility 0.96
Discovered by Bill Gosper
Year of discovery 1970

The queen bee shuttle (or basic shuttle[1]) is a period-30 shuttle oscillator in which a queen bee travels back and forth between two stabilizing ends. The shuttles were originally stabilized against one another in a square of eight shuttles, though there are now a number of known ways to stabilize the ends. Some simpler methods are shown here involving blocks; for a method involving one or two eater 1's see buckaroo. The queen bee shuttle is the basis of all known true period 30 guns (including the famous Gosper glider gun). It was found by Bill Gosper in 1970[2] and was the first period 30 oscillator to be found. In terms of its minimum population of 20 cells, it is the smallest known oscillator with period greater than 15.[3]

It produces a spark at the blocks that can be used to rephrase a blinker; two must be used to make a functioning oscillator from this reaction to prevent formation of a deadly traffic light.

A 5-glider synthesis for the cis isomer of this oscillator was found in July 2020.[4]


The cis-queen bee shuttle (shown in the infobox) and the trans-queen bee shuttle (by shifting one block by one cell) are about the 18th and 19th most common naturally-occurring oscillators in Achim Flammenkamp's census.[5] On Catagolue, it is the most common period 30 oscillator, with all other natural oscillators of that period featuring it in some form.[6]


The queen bee loop (or ouroboros bees), another form of the queen bee shuttle that was found in 1970 (also by Bill Gosper), is a closed loop made of four queen bees that clean up each other's beehives. It was forgotten about in many sources and independently rediscovered in 2008 by Nicolay Beluchenko.[7] It is also possible to create a partial loop oscillator consisting of two or three queen bees by removing one or two of the queen bees in the loop and placing two stabilizing blocks appropriately.

A queen bee loop
RLE: here
A partial queen bee loop with only three queen bees
RLE: here

Image gallery

Queen bee shuttle predecessor made up of a pi-heptomino, two blinkers and two blocks. Found by Gosper in April 1992
RLE: here


  1. "Basic shuttle". The Life Lexicon. Stephen Silver. Retrieved on June 11, 2009.
  2. Dean Hickerson's oscillator stamp collection. Retrieved on March 14, 2020.
  3. "Class 2 Objects Catalog - Oscillators". Retrieved on April 8, 2009.
  4. Ian07 (July 18, 2020). Re: Randomly enumerating glider syntheses (discussion thread) at the ConwayLife.com forums
  5. Achim Flammenkamp (September 7, 2004). "Most seen natural occurring ash objects in Game of Life". Retrieved on January 15, 2009.
  6. Adam P. Goucher. "Statistics". Catagolue. Retrieved on October 27, 2018.
  7. H. Koenig (November 23, 2008). "New Small Period Oscillators". Game of Life News. Retrieved on June 3, 2009.

External links

  • 20P30.2 at Heinrich Koenig's Game of Life Object Catalogs