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2004 December 31

New 17c/45 Spaceship: The Caterpillar

Pi Crawler Gabriel Nivasch has announced the construction of a spaceship which travels at the speed of 17c/45. It is based on a "Pi Crawler" reaction, where a Pi Heptomino moves up a string of Blinkers leaving the string undisturbed. This means that multiple Pi Crawlers can use the same string of blinkers, and if multiple tracks are properly positioned, they can interact with each other to act as glider puffers or rakes. These gliders can then be used to create c/2 Orthogonal Spaceships which in turn can run ahead of the Pi Crawlers and lay down the necessary Blinker tracks. For more information on how all this works, see Nivasch's earlier report on the Caterpillar components.

The spaceship itself has a period of 270, and is huge. The dimensions are 4195 cells wide by 330,721 cells deep. Starting with a population of 11,967,399, ranging from 11880063 (gen 113) to 12019156 (gen 210). Nivasch reports that he wrote a program which fitted together 51 different .rle subpatterns that make up the Caterpillar into the final, working pattern. This is the first known spaceship which travels at this speed (0.378c), and the largest object ever actually constructed to date.

Jason Summers has made available a zipped 7.1Meg copy of the .rle file, It has been reported that this .rle file will successfully load and execute with the Life32 program by Johan Bontes, or with Hashlife by Tomas Rokicki. With Life32, just wait a bit for it to load, and be sure to zoom down to a reasonable subsection of the entire pattern, otherwise each generation will take an inordinate amount of time to display. Properly zoomed down, it only takes about a second per generation.

Update: 2005-Jan-03

Gabriel Nivasch has updated his web page to provide a 1:40 scale illustration of the entire object.