A spark is a pattern that dies. The term is typically used to describe a collection of cells periodically thrown off by an oscillator or spaceship, but other dying patterns, particulary those consisting of only one or two cells (such as those produced by certain glider collisions, for example), are also described as sparks. For examples of small sparks see unix and heavyweight spaceship. For examples of much larger sparks, see Schick engine and phi spark.
A sparker is an oscillator or spaceship that produces sparks.
Sparkers can give varieties of different sparks:
- Dot: A single detached bit at an edge.
- Edge bit: A detached dot spark caused by the birth of three cells in a line, e.g. middleweight volcano.
- Corner bit/diagonal bit: A detached dot spark caused by the birth of three cells that form a pre-block-like shape, e.g. blocker.
- Fountain bit: A dot spark with no other bits in the row behind it, e.g. fountain, or superfountain if there are no active sparks in the next two rows.
- Domino: Two orthogonally connected bits at an edge, detached from the rest of an oscillator.
- Horizontal domino: A domino spark parallel to the edge it appears on, e.g. heavyweight volcano.
- Vertical domino: A domino spark perpendicular to the edge it appears on. Oscillators that make these are called "pipsquirters", e.g. pipsquirter 1.
- Delayed domino: A domino spark where one bit appears first, and the other is added later, e.g. figure eight.
- Fountain domino: A domino spark with no other bits in the two rows behind it, e.g. 258P3.
- Duoplet: Two diagonally connected detached bits at a corner, e.g. 48P31. Historically sometimes also called a "diagonal domino", but it is not a polyomino.
- Banana spark: A three-bit spark capable of reflecting gliders, e.g. buckaroo.
- Finger: Like a vertical domino, but the domino is attached orthogonally to something, e.g. T-nosed p4.
- Thumb: Like a corner bit, but the dot is diagonally attached to something, e.g. Thumb 1.
Strength of sparkers
A sparker oscillator can be considered "strong", "moderate" or "weak" depending on its relation to the rest of the oscillator. This does not necessarily correlate to how accessible the spark is, because examples like 101 which have very inaccessible sparks are still considered "strong" under this classification scheme.
- "Strong": the oscillator creates a spark that is a separate island, and the oscillator is not affected if the spark is removed, e.g. unix, blocker and middleweight volcano.
- "Moderate": the oscillator creates a spark that is a separate island, but the spark is still required for the oscillator to survive, e.g. mold, fumarole and figure eight.
- "Weak": the oscillator includes one or more cells at its edge that remain connected to the oscillator, but can still be used to catalyze other nearby patterns, e.g. caterer, T-nosed p4 and thumb 1.
Smoke is debris that is fairly long-lived but eventually dies out completely. Thus, it is basically a large spark, but the term is used especially when talking about the output from a spaceship (as in a smoking ship).
A tail spark is a spark that appears at the back of a spaceship. For example, there is a one-bit tail spark at the back of a lightweight spaceship, middleweight spaceship, and heavyweight spaceship in their less dense phases.
- "Sparker". The Life Lexicon. Stephen Silver. Retrieved on May 24, 2009.
- Mark Niemiec (February 19, 2015). "Sparkers". Retrieved on February 19, 2019.
- "Smoke". The Life Lexicon. Stephen Silver. Retrieved on June 10, 2009.
- "Tail spark". The Life Lexicon. Stephen Silver. Retrieved on May 21, 2009.
- "Spark". The Life Lexicon. Stephen Silver. Retrieved on May 14, 2016.
- Spark at Wikipedia