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Danny Goodwin

Google Easter Egg: Search “Conway’s Game of Life”

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A new Easter egg has been discovered on Google. Users who search for “Conway’s Game of Life” (minus the quotes) will see a cellular automata “game” invented by mathematician John Conway. But you’re limited to being a spectator on this one.

When you arrive on the Google search results page for “Conway’s Game of Life”, you’ll notice several small blueish-gray boxes moving through numerous patterns and spreading over the page.

What is Conway’s Game of Life? Essentially, it’s a game played on an infinite two-dimensional grid of square cells with neither players nor winners or losers. Life’s rules create the patterns in the game, and offer a way to learn about complex patterns and systems.

As Wonders of Math explains, the basic rules are:

A cell can be live or dead. A live cell is shown by putting a marker on its square. A dead cell is shown by leaving the square empty. Each cell in the grid has a neighborhood consisting of the eight cells in every direction including diagonals.

  • A dead cell with exactly three live neighbors becomes a live cell (birth).
  • A live cell with two or three live neighbors stays alive (survival).
  • In all other cases, a cell dies or remains dead (overcrowding or loneliness).

Various life forms or objects (block patterns) can appear, according to Wolfram Mathworld: block, tub, boat, snake, ship, aircraft carrier, beehive, barge, Python, long boat, easter, fishhook, and loaf:

conways-game-of-life-patterns

Googler John Mueller revealed the fun Easter egg on Google+, noting “I remember making a version of this as a kid, trying to find self-sustaining elements, building 'gliders' that soared diagonally across the field, and generally just fascinated to see such simple structures evolve into something apparently unpredictable.”

Check out this YouTube video of the Game of Life in action on Google:


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