To the ever-growing list of names of people that have been so familiar (almost as if we actually knew them) but are now no more we must add John Conway. Many who dabbled with programming on old computers will have implemented a version of Conway’s Game of Life which determined if a cell should live or die by following a set of rules:

  1. Any live cell with two or three live neighbours survives.
  2. Any dead cell with three live neighbours becomes a live cell.
  3. All other live cells die in the next generation. Similarly, all other dead cells stay dead.

There is a version implemented within the wonderful Xynthesizr which allows for some random generative noise. We add a few cells, which live or die by the rules, and then let it evolve by itself – never quite reaching a stable state.

It uses a Messiaen scale. There was a nice tribute by XKCD too…