If you’re the sort of person who reads this blog, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with John Conway‘s Game of Life. In case you’re not, here’s the executive summary:
Start with an infinite checkerboard. Color some squares black and others white. From here on, the game plays itself. Any white square with exactly two or three white neighbors stays white. All other white squares turn black. Any black square with exactly three white neighbors turns white. All other black cells stay black. Repeat.
The goal is to choose an initial coloring that yields interesting behavior, like a snail that crawls across the page.
But here’s the coolest one ever — the Game of Life plays the Game of Life:
In case you didn’t follow that, the camera is zooming out until large blocks of squares look like single squares, each of them apparently (though not really) either solid white or solid black. The big squares obey the rules of the game, even though all the behavior is controlled by the little tiny squares, which, by the end, have become invisible. (In fact, if I understand this correctly, it takes over 35,000 generations at the little-square level to make the big squares “instantly” change color.)
The very clever people who made this possible can be found here.
A hat tip (for both the link and the title) to my friend Claudia.