Random Recipe

The Cook Book

Recipe for the week of January 22 - 28

Orbital Technologies brews Life into Java

Three week's ago, referring to Chris Langton's nice Web-based Exploring the Space of Cellular Automata, I mentioned the highly publicized impending paradigm shift in computing:

Applets like this will be commonplace real soon now, when Java reigns supreme, our PCs and workstations have all been scrapped in favor of $50 Web boxes, we all enjoy infinite bandwidth, and the Microsoft juggernaut finally crashes and burns.

That was supposed to read a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I have been on the lookout for a Java implementation of a cellular automaton. Langton's program works well because one-dimensional systems require so little computing power compared to higher-dimensional models. The WebLife page in my Kitchen Sink shows the limitations of remote updating for 2d rules. So I was delighted to finally find a Java version of Conway's Life, created by Orbital Technologies in the UK, that runs on the latest version of Netscape. This week's soup shows a still frame from their simulation. The links that follow once allowed you to watch reasonable real-time movies of Life on a small array within your browser, but are no longer active. Fun while it lasted...

Download Netscape 2.0
For the moment Netscape 2.0, still in final beta, is the only first-rate browser that supports Java. Get it if you haven't already!

Orbital's Life Applet
Click on this link to run Life under Netscape 2.0. The page includes options to randomize and reset; you can also add new live cells with your mouse by dragging over a portion of the experiment window. Trans-Atlantic bandwidth is still not quite infinite, though, so good luck ...

Orbital Technologies Home Page
Some PR for the outfit providing this week's fare.

Of course it's more fun to make your own movies, and fortunately the tools to try are also available. Sun Microsystems has just posted the first release of its Java programming tools, while the code for Orbital's Life provides a good template for beginning to implement other CA dynamics. Here are three more links that should provide all you need to start brewing your own. We hope to offer more of these portable CA movies in the future. As always, contributed recipes and other feedback are most welcome.

Java Developer's Kit 1.0
Download the programming environment for Solaris or Windows 95/NT platforms.

Java Home Page
General information and links to Java applet libraries.

The Source for Orbital's Life

Take me higher...
Introduction to the PSK PSK Search Recent Additions CA Archive CA Links Feedback Appreciated !