Our extensive research turned up relations to many branches of science. It's amazing how such diverse topics can be related together by such a simple game.


Biology

This "game" has many related functions to biology. The game suggests that if there is a change in an organism, there will be a change in behavior. This is also suggested in the composition of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the components of an organismís characteristics. DNA is composed of ribose (a 5 carbon sugar), a phosphate backbone supporting the structure, and nitrogen bases. All these components are arranged in a double helix. This is like a spiraling ladder. The nitrogen bases form the "rungs" of this ladder and are connected by hydrogen bonds. The actual nitrogen bases are composed of guanine, adenine, cytosine, and thymine. Adenine and thymine are attracted to each other and are connected by three hydrogen bonds. Cytosine and guanine also pair together like the others, but this pair only is connected by two hydrogen bonds. The sequence of proteins and of the DNA itself is contained with in these bases. Three of these bases make a codon and these codons can be replicated to form amino acids. These amino acids are bound together during protein synthesis to form proteins. These proteins guide the body to do certain functions and sometimes alter an organism's behavior if they are not in balance. If there is a mutation in the DNA and one of the bases is replaced by another or is omitted, the structure of the protein will be altered. This also changes the function of the protein and it may not function in the situation in which it is required. An example of this would be a person with hemophilia. In this condition, a blood clotting agent known as Factor 8 is not present with in the blood stream. This is because it is not properly coded on the X chromosome of the sex chromosomes. Since this is not properly coded, it does not function in the reaction when it is needed.

Another example of the chaos in this experiment would be represented by the primordial soup of early Earth. Just as in the beginning, there were many very simple and small organisms mainly consisting of nonorganic matter. Over time, with the help of ultraviolet light and other gases such as hydrogen and nitrogen, these simple and small components eventually evolved into more complex stuff and eventually organic matter. The same principle holds true for our "game of life." Most of the patterns begin with very simple and noncomplex shapes which when run iterate into in rather complex and large patterns that become very hard to follow. Just as the organisms of the Earth had their range and their migration from their points of origin so do some things in the our "game of life." Certain objects known as gliders are produced from a certain fixed location, sometimes a glider gun and then from their migrate out and eventually exhibit some type of indefinite range unless it is stopped by some other stuff.

Physics/Cosmology

When the universe was first created, it was a random configuration of matter, created by the Big Bang. Yet the universe that we now see is very ordered. What created the order in the universe that we now see? The laws of physics. Gravity pulled large clumps of matter together, and the spinning motion of these objects formed them into spheres. In the Life universe, Conway's three laws can take a random scattering of cells and form them into the common still life and oscillator patterns. This is an example of "order out of chaos." Any pattern, no matter how complex or disordered, will eventually coalesce into the common stable patterns or fade away.

Mathematics

Life is a recursive universe. The rules of life are applied to the current pattern, and this produces the next generation. The rules are then applied to this new generation. The distant past has no effect on the next generation. Only the present affects the future. This is a fundamental example of recursion.

Chaos Theory

The "butterfly effect" plays a role in the life universe just as it does in our own. The changing of a single cell, even in a large pattern, can lead to totally different results. A pattern that normally stabilizes after 53 generations can go on for more than 2000 generation just by removing a single cell. My Hard Data shows how, although the populations of two similar patterns start off similar, they soon diverge dramatically.

Conclusion

Through our intensive study of JCGoL, we have discovered that, indeed, simple patterns can evolve into complex forms rather quickly, while complex will order themselves into simpler pattens. Moreover, the behavior of these systems cannot be predicted. The only way to discover what a pattern will do is to actually trace its development. This suggests that the system is chaotic by nature. This is also shown by the existance of the butterfly effect in this simulation. Small changes in the pattern can result in a completely different final product. JCGoL is also a microcosm of our own world. It shows us how simple rules on a small scale can lead to complex behavior on a large scale.

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Created and maintained by Jeff Hoskinson
Last revised: 1 June 1996