# Blog

## Archive

Show me a random blog post**2019**

**2018**

**2017**

**2016**

**2015**

**2014**

**2013**

**2012**

## Tags

propositional calculus oeis geometry manchester science festival sport platonic solids royal baby countdown weather station mathslogicbot coins python the aperiodical flexagons game show probability frobel sorting php london gerry anderson fractals golden ratio stickers bodmas hats dragon curves noughts and crosses aperiodical big internet math-off estimation pizza cutting realhats chebyshev braiding final fantasy craft chalkdust magazine plastic ratio logic games folding paper triangles map projections world cup menace pac-man people maths game of life cross stitch european cup curvature javascript christmas card reddit misleading statistics national lottery christmas matt parker chess sound graph theory data captain scarlet binary rugby inline code palindromes wool draughts pythagoras reuleaux polygons books mathsteroids harriss spiral approximation ternary a gamut of games asteroids light accuracy golden spiral london underground error bars arithmetic radio 4 electromagnetic field latex polynomials hexapawn martin gardner manchester statistics puzzles interpolation go twitter machine learning news probability football bubble bobble nine men's morris dates trigonometry video games folding tube maps speed programming dataset rhombicuboctahedron raspberry pi tennis## Making names in Life

**2016-06-05**

The Game of Life is a cellular automaton invented by John Conway in 1970,
and popularised by Martin Gardner.

In Life, cells on a square grid are either alive or dead. It begins
at generation 0 with some cells alive and some dead. The cells' aliveness in
the following generations are defined by the following rules:

- Any live cell with four or more live neighbours dies of overcrowding.
- Any live cell with one or fewer live neighbours dies of loneliness.
- Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours comes to life.

Starting positions can be found which lead to all kinds of behaviour:
from making gliders
to generating prime numbers.
The following starting position is one of my favourites:

It looks boring enough, but in the next generation, it will look like this:

If you want to confirm that I'm not lying, I recommend the free Game of Life Software Golly.

### Going backwards

You may be wondering how I designed the starting pattern above. A first, it looks like a difficult task: each cell can be dead or alive,
so I need to check every possible combination until I find one. The number of combinations will be \(2^\text{number of cells}\). This will
be a very large number.

There are simplifications that can be made, however. Each of the letters above (ignoring the

*g*s) is in a 3×3 block, surrounded by dead cells. Only the cells in the 5×5 block around this can affect the letter. These 5×5 blocks do no overlap, so can be calculated seperately. I doesn't take too long to try all the possibilities for these 5×5 blocks. The*g*s were then made by starting with an*o*and trying adding cells below.### Can I make my name?

Yes, you can make your name.

I continued the search and found a 5×5 block for each letter. Simply Enter your name in the box below and
these will be combined to make a pattern leading to your name!

### Similar posts

Building MENACEs for other games | MENACE at Manchester Science Festival | The Mathematical Games of Martin Gardner | MENACE |

### Comments

Comments in green were written by me. Comments in blue were not written by me.

Add a Comment