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Creating Universes with Digital Bits

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In 1970, a mathematician named John Horton Conway devised a self-sustaining simulation based on several simple rules. What he didn’t know is that his “Game of Life” would create a whole new field of mathematics and cause theorists to wonder if our own universe could be the emergent result of a simple set of instructions. Could everything in our universe stem from a relatively simple set of rules? Computer scientist Jürgen Schmidhuber thinks so, and he believes Conway’s game is an excellent example of seemingly random complexity arising from predetermined rules. But how useful is it to scientists?

Want to try your hand at Conway’s Game of Life?

More from this series: Rebooting the Cosmos

Pictured: John Horton Conway, inventor of cellular automata and the Game of Life; Image courtesy of Thane Plambeck; Recorded June 2011; Posted September 2011

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