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2009 March 08

New c/6 Extensible Spaceship

Paul Tooke's c/6 front-sparking spaceshipWith a month-long search using a customized version of the 'gfind' search program in October of last year, Paul Tooke completed a new c/6 spaceship based on a flexible self-supporting pushalong component supplied by Hartmut Holzwart.

The pushalong component can follow behind another copy of itself and supply the necessary sparks to keep it going -- surprisingly, three different phases work equally well, as shown in the right-hand spaceship in the diagram.

A very unusual feature of this spaceship is that it has a strong central forward spark, and it travels slowly enough to allow this spark to interact with other objects without destroying the spaceship. Many types of spaceships have side sparks that can be used to modify or clean up other objects in passing. But this new c/6 can simply run right over the top of some still lifes, small oscillators, and constellations, and continue unharmed -- as the left-hand spaceship demonstrates.
A sample constellation is shown at the top of the "junk column" for the left-hand spaceship, which produces a clean glider output that escapes in front of the spaceship. It is an open question what the smallest or easiest-to-construct still life or constellation is that has this property. Forward LWSS or other orthogonal spaceships, traveling ahead of the c/6 spaceship on the same track, could also be produced in this way. Sparks at the back of the spaceship can be used to delete following gliders; as of this writing, it is unknown if any glider- or spaceship-turning reactions are possible using these sparks.