You know I wrote the other day about Martin Gardner’s mathematical problems, published in Scientific American back in the 60s and early 70s? That is, that’s when I used to read them, first my father’s comment and then, after his death in 1970, my own. I stopped taking the magazine in the end because I understood so little of it, though either it’s become more accessible to the ignorant or else I’ve learned more since then than I used to know, judging by the occasions I browse through the school library copy. Anyway – yes, there is a point, I just take a while getting there … when I looked up his Wiki entry, I was taken right back to the days of the schoolgirl Z. Flexagons, tangrams, polyonimoes and – the Game of Life.
Do check it out here and then come back to me.
I spent hours on this. I actually used graph paper, filled in a design and worked out what would happen – reproducing, spreading out, dying out or becoming static or repetitive. I can’t remember how long my interest lasted, I’ve no idea whether it was weeks or months, though I know I went back to it periodically, but I do have the clearest memories of drawing it, adding the next generation or crossing out the dying one, drawing it again and I found it fascinating. In Wiki, it says that it’s interesting for computer scientists, physicists, biologists, biochemists, economists, mathematicians, philosophers, generative scientists and others. I’m none of those named, so must be one of ‘others’. Later in the article, it mentions the computer game Populous ll, which I spent much time on some years ago, when I was in my forties (yes, I had a misspent middle age). Now I see why I liked that so much too. But the patience (and time on my hands) I must have had, this solemn child with her sheets of graph paper and a pen.
One other thing – my name, of course, is Greek for ‘life.’ Ooh, spooky.