Life Credits

Ball | Bell | Beluchenko | Buckingham | Callahan | Coe | Conway | Corderman | Eisenmann | Elkies | Eppstein | Flammenkamp | Gosper | Goucher | Grant | Greene | Hensel | Hickerson | Holzwart | Koenig | Leithner | Merzenich | Niemiec | Nivasch | Petrie | Playle | Raynham | Rokicki | Silver | Summers | Thompson | Trevorrow | Wade | Wainwright | Miscellaneous
Special thanks

This is a list of most of the individuals whose work is included in these pages. In most cases, those who have discovered or created object syntheses are mentioned, but discoverers of individual patterns themselves are not.

(NOTE: This list includes only individuals whose work is directly or indirectly included in these pages. There are many others not included here who have also made substantial contributions to Life.)

Contributors referenced from other pages have individual sections. Others are grouped collectively at the end.

Josh Ball

Josh Ball found the Loafer, the only known c/7 orthogonal spaceship. What is truly remarkable is its small size, and its simple form, making it easy to synthesize from gliders. The synthesis was first created by Adam P. Goucher and later improved by Matthias Merzenich.

David Ingalls Bell

David Bell has found many spaceships and puffer trains traveling at several different velocities. He collaborated with Gabriel Nivasch and Jason Summers to construct Caterpillar, currently the largest non-trivial Life spaceship.

He has much useful Life information on his web site.

Nicolay Beluchenko

Nicolay Beluchenko has discovered many medium-sized oscillators, including Bowed caterer, Fire spitting, Blonker, a series of oscillators with an eater eating a thing with various attachments (like loaf or tail), and Two eaters eating thing, as well as three previously-overlooked 20-bit variants of Eater eating eater. He has also done a computer search completing the list of period 3 oscillators and pseudo-oscillators up to 20 bits, that also included several never previously reported.

David Buckingham

David Buckingham significantly expanded the lists of known still-lifes, first listing the 12-bit ones (simultaneously with Petrie and Boyer), first listing the 13-bit ones, and using Raynham's search program to first list the 14-bit ones.

He found many oscillators, including literally hundreds of billiard table configurations, as well as a basic period 24 puffer train.

He developed most of the existing technology used in glider synthesis of still-lifes, oscillators, and spaceships, and methodically generated syntheses of all still-lifes and oscillators up to 14 bits, as well as many larger ones. Most complex syntheses of larger objects are heavily based on the tools he developed.

In 1996, he revealed a suite of track components that use eaters and other still-lifes to move can move a Herschel heptomino - the 20th generation of B heptomino, after it has left a block behind. By combining several of these, in much the same way as one assembles toy train tracks, one can produce circular conduits that take arbitrarily long to cycle a single Herschel. By placing multiple Herschels in such a conduit, one can obtain oscillators of arbitrarily small periods. (These were improvements over his earlier track components that used spark-producing oscillators as stabilizers; unfortunately, those could only produce oscillators whose periods are multiples of those of the spark-producers.)

Oscillators of all periods 58 and above can be obtained in this way. Since Herschels naturally release gliders, this also yields glider guns of all periods 62 and above. (The Herschels collide with each other if closer than 58 generations apart, and they collide with the escaping gliders if closer than 62 generations apart.) In the late 1990s, Dietrich Leithner extended this technology by creating oscillators and guns of periods as low as 54.

This is basically a variation of the method described by Conway in the 1970s to construct oscillators of arbitrary period using stable glider-reflectors. (Currently, most known stable glider-reflectors are derived from the above, turning a glider into a Herschel, shuttling the Herschel, and then turning the Herschel back into a glider; unfortunately, the minimum inter-glider spacing of all known reflectors is much larger than the typical minimal inter-Herschel spacing (58) of the Herschel conduits.)

Paul Callahan

Paul Callahan has expanded Buckingham's Herschel conduit mechanisms, building stable glider reflectors.

He used to maintain a Life-related web site featuring a comprehensive pattern catalog and Java life applet, This page is now defunct, but is is currently archived on Tom Rokicki's site.

Tim Coe

Tim Coe found the period 16 puffer engine, that is itself a clean spaceship, but that has easily ignitable exhaust, facilitating construction of many puffer trains.

He has also discovered a small P8 oscillator, a c/5 orthogonal spaceship (the Snail), and a collision of 11 gliders that develops into a natural Caterer.

John Horton Conway

In the early 1970s, John Horton Conway invented the Game of Life. He did much of the original research into Life, laying most of the game's basic mathematical foundations.

He found many of the small still-lifes, oscillators (including the Pulsar and Pentadecathlon), and spaceships (Glider, Light-weight spaceship (LWSS), Middle-weight spaceship (MWSS), and Heavy-weight spaceship (HWSS).)

Charles Corderman

Charles Corderman discovered the 9-bit still-life hat and the Switch Engine, the only known simple naturally-occurring puffer train, as well as three stabilized variants of it (block-making, glider-making, and Noah's ark).

Jack Eisenmann

Jack Eisenmann has done much exploration of the B34/S34 rule (3/4-Life). He has found most of the non-trivial spaceships, and many of the larger oscillators of several periods.

He maintains an extensive set of information about this rule on his web site.

Noam Elkies

Noam Elkies has found several oscillators, including the period 36 Two eaters hassling two T tetrominos, a small period 5 oscillator, and the infinitely expandible Traffic jam oscillators.

He has also proven that the density of Life still-lifes cannot exceed 50%.

David Eppstein

David Eppstein has found many spaceships traveling at many different velocities, in Life and many other cellular automata. Most notably, on 2000-01-12, he found the Weekender, the first known Life spaceship that moves orthogonally at a velocity of 2c/7.

He maintains an extensive web site dealing with gliders in all Life-like rules.

Achim Flammenkamp

Achim Flammenkamp performed many experiments on random Life fields, collecting statistics on object artificiality. In the process, he found many never-before-seen naturally-occurring (though extremely rare) oscillators, such as the P4 Cloverleaf, the P5 Pseudo-barber-pole, the P8 Smiley, another P8, a P11, a P16, and a P144.

His results are available on his web site.

R. William Gosper

Bill Gosper found some of Life's basic shuttle-based oscillators, including Queen Bee, Twin Bees, and Centinal. He first proved that Life patterns could expand forever by constructing the first glider gun, and subsequently a period 20 puffer train. He subsequently also proved that Life patterns could expand quadratically by constructing the first breeder, by having a flotilla of puffers that construct glider guns.

Adam P. Goucher

Adam P. Goucher was the first to synthesize the Loafer.

In July 2014, he completed work on the Half-baked knight-ship, a series of spaceships of any velocity (2,1)c/k for any sufficiently large k (e.g. around 2400000 or larger). This is based on a remarkable interaction where a glider hits a half-bakery, shifting the half-bakery (3,6) cells, and shifting the glider one row.

He maintains the Game of Life portal with Dave Greene and H. Koenig.

Martin Grant

Martin Grant (aka "Extrementhusiast") was the first to synthesize many objects, including French kiss, the new Glider eater, 21.274324, Fore and back*, the Bellman 1 glider eater, Spark coil w/4 barges, and the Variant eater-3, and reduced syntheses of Coe's P8 and Two pairs of bookends, and helped complete syntheses of the last two unsolved 15-bit still-lifes (15.387 and 15.390), and the last unsolved 16-bit pseudo-still-life (down hook w/tail below hook w/tail)), three problems that had been unsolved for a decade and a half. He was also instrumental in completing the syntheses of many of the last unsolved 16, 17, and 18-bit still-lives, and 18 and 19-bit pseudo-still-lifes.

David Greene

David Greene constructed a knight-ship based on Gemini.

He maintains the Game of Life portal with Adam Goucher and H. Koenig.

He is one of the co-authors of Golly, one of the most popular Windows-based Life programs, along with Tomas Rokicki, Andrew Trevorrow, Jason Summers, and Tim Hutton.

Alan Hensel

Alan Hensel maintains a web site that includes a comprehensive glossary of Life patterns and terms.

Dean Hickerson

Dean Hickerson wrote the first oscillator search program, that found many new oscillators, including some small ones like the Caterer, Mold and Jam (that had been previously found by Achim Flammenkamp but were not well known). This program also found the first spaceships other than the four natural ones found by Conway.

He has also written another search program that has found many new billiard table oscillators, including the first period 17, and created many patterns whose population growth are neither linear nor quadratic, for example, O(log n), O(√n), O(n log n) etc.

He also found glider syntheses of several large objects that occur naturally in contrived situations, as well as the first four-glider synthesis of the tub w/tail.

Most recently, he has created a search program that has searched through many random collisions of four gliders, finding many four glider syntheses of common objects, plus several larger ones.

He used to maintain a Life-related web site featuring many oscillators and glider syntheses. This page is now defunct, but is is currently archived on Tom Rokicki's site.

Hartmut Holzwart

Hartmut Holzwart found many exotic spaceships and spaceship tag-alongs, including the hive-nudgers.

H. Koenig

H. Koenig has performed many computer object searches, verifying Buckingham's and Niemiec's still-life counts up to 18 bits, and period 2 oscillators up to 16 bits, (as well as making several minor corrections to some of these lists.), and period 2 oscillators up to 20 bits.

He has collected statistics on many randomly-occurring Life objects and oscillators, the results of which have resulted in improved glider syntheses of some of these. He has also found a previously-unknown three-glider synthesis of the Pentadecathlon.

He has a large Game of Life portal that he maintains along with Adam Goucher and Dave Greene, that includes lists of objects and many glider syntheses, an alternative to much of the information contained here.

Dietrich Leithner

Dietrich Leithner and his friend Peter Rott extended Buckingham's Herschel-conduit oscillator technology by creating oscillators and guns of periods as low as 54. He also created the first gliderless gun that produces light-weight spaceships.

Matthias Merzenich

Matthias Merzenich (aka "Sokwe") has found several oscillators, including a 24-bit period 10, and Honey thieves, the first glider-constructible period 17, as well as a 83-bit c/7 diagonal spaceship [x] that can also push multiple copies of its own head. He helped develop syntheses for 29-bit still-life #1 and several oscillators, including a period 32 and a period 51, and improved the synthesis of the Loafer, HWSS and MWSS dragging block and Cloverleaf. He was also instrumental in completing the syntheses of many of the last unsolved 16, 17, and 18-bit still-lives.

Mark D. Niemiec

Mark D. Niemiec has found several oscillators, including the period 9 Snacker (with Buckingham).

He expanded on Buckingham's enumeration results, generating complete lists of still-lifes and pseudo-still-lifes up to 24 bits, as well as period 2 oscillators and pseudo-oscillators up to 21 bits. He has also listed larger-period oscillators and pseudo-oscillators up to 20-24 bits by hand, although these still await computer verification; many of these were assembled from lists compiled by Dean Hickerson, H. Koenig and others.

He has expanded on Buckingham's glider synthesis results, generating syntheses of almost all 15-bit still-lifes, pseudo-still-lifes up to 16 bits, many remaining period 2 oscillators of 15-18 bits, most period 2 pseudo-oscillators up to 21 bits, and most higher-period oscillators and pseudo-oscillators up to 21-24 bits.

He is also the author and maintainer of these Life pages, that show many of the above object lists and syntheses.

He has most recently written a search program that applies lists of known synthesis recipe fragments to list of objects to create recipes for creating most objects, as well as lists of objects that can or be synthesized from known recipes. This makes it possible to find automated synthesis paths for most small objects for which syntheses have not yet been attempted, and to reduce large lists of objects to much smaller lists of objects for which no automated syntheses are yet known - making it easier to focus research on those few difficult objects.

Gabriel Nivasch

Gabriel Nivasch has found many exotic larger-period oscillators. He collaborated with David Bell and Jason Summers to construct Caterpillar, currently the largest non-trivial Life spaceship.

Douglas G. Petrie

Douglas G. Petrie found many early glider syntheses, including the Toad, Half-fleet (12.3), Pulsar, Pentadecathlon, HWSS, Schick ship, and Switch engine.

He and V. Everett Boyer also first listed the 12-bit still-lifes, (simultaneously with Buckingham).

Mike Playle

Mike Playle created a search engine called Bellman whose purpose is to find highly customized still-lifes that are useful for eating and hassling. It found several useful mechanisms. One of these is Bellman One (B1) traffic-light eater. Another is the Snark, a glider reflector with a very fast recovery time, reflecting gliders spaced as close as 43 generations apart by 90 degrees. This allows creation of oscillators of all periods 43 and above, and created the first oscillators ever seen with periods 43 and 53.

Peter R. Raynham

Peter R. Raynham has found several small oscillators.

He also found several glider syntheses, including a 14-bit still-life Sidewalk (14.507), and the previous optimal (for twenty years) four-glider synthesis of the Pentadecathlon.

He wrote the first program to search for still-lifes, verifying the lists created by Wainwright and Buckingham, and that Buckingham used to expand the state of the art to include the 14-bit still-lifes. That program's algorithm inspired Niemiec's program that enumerated the larger still-lifes and period 2 oscillators.

Tomas Rokicki

He is the main author of Golly, one of the most popular Windows-based Life programs, along with Andrew Trevorrow, Dave Greene, Jason Summers, and Tim Hutton.

He maintains a web site archive of several defunct Life web sites, including those of Dean Hickerson and Paul Callahan.

Stephen Silver

Stephen Silver found the first syntheses for several oscillators, including Short keys and Cis skewed poles. He also improved syntheses of several oscillators, including Test tube baby, and Fumarole, and the table used in objects like 14.446.

He has a web site devoted to life, which also includes a copy of his definitive Life Lexicon.

Jason Summers

Jason Summers found many exotic spaceships, including the Canada Goose, that for a long time was the smallest known non-trivial spaceship that travels at a velocity of c/4 diagonally. He also found many exotic larger-period oscillators and guns and syntheses for many exotic large-period oscillators. He collaborated with David Bell and Gabriel Nivasch to construct Caterpillar, currently the largest non-trivial Life spaceship.

He also found the one known c/4 diagonal spaceship in the B34/S34 rule (3/4-Life).

He maintains a web site full of much useful Life information, including lists of oscillators, spaceships, and many syntheses of exotic oscillators.

He is one of the co-authors of Golly, one of the most popular Windows-based Life programs, along with Tomas Rokicki, Andrew Trevorrow, Dave Greene, and Tim Hutton.

Hugh W. Thompson

Hugh W. Thompson found the methuselah Thunderbird. Later, he tracked the fates of all clusters of living cells up to 10 bits, providing an exhaustive proof that no hitherto-unknown spaceships or oscillators of periods above 2 exist within that range.

Andrew Trevorrow

In 1986, Andrew Trevorrow discovered Rabbits, one of the most prolific small methuselahs.

He maintains a web site with some useful Life information.

He is one of the co-authors of Golly, one of the most popular Windows-based Life programs, along with Tomas Rokicki, Dave Greene, Jason Summers, and Tim Hutton.

Andrew J. Wade

In May 2010, Andrew J. Wade constructed Gemini, Life's first constructor-based spaceship. The basic mechanism allows creation of spaceships of all rational directions, and all rational velocities up to (1,1)c/580.

Robert T. Wainwright

In the early 1970s, Robert T. Wainwright published Lifeline, a newsletter devoted to discoveries about Life, and sometimes other similar cellular automata. Many of the original discoveries in Life were first published in Lifeline, and Lifeline served to foster much interest in Life, that was then still in its infancy.

Wainwright began the first efforts to systematically list the still-lifes, assembling lists up to 11 bits from various partial lists submitted by various Lifeline readers.

He also found many oscillators, including the Blocker and Two blockers hassling R pentomino, and a basic period 8 blinker-laying puffer train.


John Abbott found the first glider synthesis of a long boat.

George D. Collins, Jr. discovered the period 14 oscillator Tumbler.

Evan Clark found the one known c/5 orthogonal spaceship in the B34/S34 rule (3/4-Life).

Scott Dershellik found the diagonal glider in B34/S34 rule (3/4-Life).

Sol Goodman and Arthur C. Taber discovered the period 5 oscillator Octagon II.

Jan Kok discovered the period 8 oscillator Kok's Galaxy.

Clement A. Lessner III and William P. Webb discovered the eating properties of the 7-bit still-life fishhook, which was then renamed the Eater as a result.

D. R. McEntee found the synthesis of the 14-bit still-life Bookend tie bookend (14.582) from two LWSS.

Lewis Patterson found predecessors that inspired new syntheses for 21.274324, Two pseudo-paper-clips, 24-bit still-life #4, Clip, 31-bit still-life #1, 32-bit still-life #1 and Cloverleaf and reduced syntheses for Tub test tube baby and Coe's P8.

Pavel Podgoretsky found a small pseudo-object (four sets of blocks on table surrounding a central block) that was the smallest known pseudo-object that requires partitioning into more than two distinct sets.

Roger H. Rosenbaum found the methuselah Gliders by the dozen, that releases twelve gliders, and later, James Seawright found its omino predecessor, the Glidersomino.

Richard Schroeppel discovered the period 3 oscillator Cuphook. From 1992-1999, he also hosted a Life e-mail list that facilitated much discussion and interest in Life in recent years.

Paul Schick discovered a clean puffer-train tag-along, the Schick ship.

Boris "Bob" Shemyakin found many syntheses of objects from 4 gliders, 5 gliders, and 6 gliders, that had never been previously reported, including 6-glider syntheses of Test tube baby, Short keys, and Tumbler. Also, in June 2014, he discovered a 3-glider synthesis of the Bi-pond (16.1749), the first new 3-glider synthesis reported in almost two decades.

Karel Suhajda found a period 24 oscillator: Four blocks hassling two honeyfarms and a beacon.

Don Woods discovered a period 8 billiard table Cauldron.

(NOTE: names in quotes are screen names of posters on the Life community forums.)

Ivan Fomichev (aka "codeholic") was the first to synthesize several objects, including the Snark.

"Kayzan" found the 9-bit methuselah Jaydot in March 2014, when it had been believed that all methuselahs of this size had already been discovered.

Special thanks

These are some people who are singled out as having made especially great contributions, without which this site would not have been possible:

See also: definitions, structure, search methodologies, other rules, news, credits, links, site map, search, expanded search, search help, downloads.

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Copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2013, 2014 by Mark. D. Niemiec. All rights reserved.
This page was last updated on 2015-02-19.