31c/240 orthogonal

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31c/240 orthogonal
Spaceship Yes
Puffer Yes
Rake Yes
Wickstretcher No
Gun No

31c/240 orthogonal is an orthogonal speed equal to thirty one two-hundred-fortieths of the speed of light. A reburnable glider-emitting wick traveling at 31c/240, based on pairs of Herschels traveling along chains of blocks, was discovered in April 2013.[1] The first spaceship built using this technology was the shield bug, soon followed by the smaller centipede.

Spaceships can be constructed with many mutually-supporting pairs of Herschels, each of which send out a glider to each side every 240 ticks, somewhat along the lines of the chains of pi climbers in the original Caterpillar. The first step in constructing a spaceship was to find a way to allow Herschel pairs to climb block chains while suppressing all output gliders. In January 2014, Kiho Park suggested a workable suppression mechanism.[2]

Each passing Herschel shifts its block chain forward by 9 ticks, which is relatively prime to 31, so it is possible to shift the block chains by any desired distance. Thus a rake unit can be adjusted to output gliders on any desired lane. Arbitrary slow salvo recipes can be fired from the rakes, enabling a 31c/240 spaceship to construct its own support by sending LWSS and MWSS spaceships forward to collide with gliders at the front end, and extend the block chains ahead of the ship.

Later, Michael Simkin constructed a smaller 31c/240 orthogonal spaceship using caterloopillar technology.[3]

On May 9, 2020, the silverfish, a self-supporting 31c/240 caterpillar-type spaceship designed using the slow salvo recipe from the Centipede but a simpler front end, was completed.[4]

31c/240 had been the slowest speed achieved by orthogonal spaceships until March 5, 2016, when copperhead was discovered.


  1. Dave Greene (April 19, 2013). "Re: Blockic splitters". Retrieved on January 9, 2015.
  2. Kiho Park (January 8, 2014). "Re: 31c/240 caterpillar working notes". Retrieved on January 9, 2015.
  3. Michael Simkin (April 17, 2016). "Re: 31c/240 caterloopillar". Retrieved on April 17, 2016.
  4. Adam P. Goucher (May 9, 2020). Re: 31c/240 caterpillar working notes (discussion thread) at the ConwayLife.com forums

See also

External links