GLArt and NOC: The Life Tower
EDIT: See new supersized screenshots here.
The Life Tower is a 3D visualization of Conway's Game of Life. The current generation is drawn on top of the tower, and each successive generation is drawn underneath.
Patterns in one-dimensional cellular automata are more evident when they're drawn with successive generations in a two-dimensional field. The Life Tower adds a third dimension to a 2D cellular automaton—the Game of Life—in order to see if similarly interesting patterns emerge.
Click and hold the mouse to rotate the tower and move the camera up and down. Use the 'S' key to step through generations, or hit the space bar to toggle continuous calculation. The 'R' key resets. Press 'P' to use smaller flat squares instead of cubes to draw each cell (and 'C' to switch back to cubes).
Discussion and more screenshots after the jump.
The patterns are pretty interesting. Converging and diverging cell structures create kind of strange, coral-like branching structures; gliders make "pillars" that move in a diagonal direction. Towers result from stable structures, and "blinkers" make towers that oscillate between lining up along the X and Z planes.
The next step is to get an editor in the program so you can define your own initial states, or edit simulations in progress. (The initial patterns in this version are random.) I'm interested to see what larger scale oscillating patterns look like, or structures that create gliders and spaceships. I'd also like to create some actual 3D objects based on the program's output. Hello exploder paperweight!