How to use this page


Click the "Random cells" button, or the "Glider", "F pentomino" or "Gosper glider gun" buttons. Then click "Go!" You can re-click any of the buttons once the process has started. To stop it, click "Reset" or refresh your browser.

[Browsers vary a lot in how fast they process this page. Google Chrome seems the fastest.]

The image

The image you see is not an animated gif or Java applet. It is created using SVG (scalable vector graphics) and javascript. The javascript recalculates the positions of the "alive" cells many times a second. These are then displayed using SVG.

John Horton Conway's "Life"

The mathematician John Conway invented the "game of Life" in 1970, aiming to create a simple set of rules which mimic some of the qualities of life, such as emergence, self-organization, and replication.

The rules which govern each generation are fairly simple.

  1. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if caused by under-population.
  2. Any live cell with two or three live neighbours lives on to the next generation.
  3. Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies, as if by overcrowding.
  4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.

Watching the glider move across the screen, it is possible to see how these rules are put into practice.


Here are two other versions of this program. A clickable draggable version which you can interact with more, and a non-standard coloured version.

Clickable draggable version

Coloured version [This is shockingly computation-intensive, so beware ... but it doesn't crash Chrome.]

If you enjoyed this page, you may want to download a version of it which you can run on your computer at home. You don't need a local webserver, it runs from 'my documents' or any other folder on your home computer. You can juggle with the javascript and html as much as you wish. There are two versions here. One is very similar to this page, and one is cut down to run on a mobile phone.

Download similar page

Download page for mobile

Once you have saved the .zip file, extract it. The resulting .html file can be opened by your browser (you can double click on it), and run locally. You can edit the file with any text editor by using 'open with'. [Both these versions are text-based rather than using svg.]

There is a lot known about "Life", with many amazing patterns and intriguing results. The Wikipedia article is great, and the Java applet on this page is amazing!