|View animated image|
|View static image|
|Oscillator type||Muttering moat|
|Number of cells||3|
|Bounding box||3 × 3|
|Rotor type||Pole 2|
|Discovered by||John Conway|
|Year of discovery||1969|
The blinker is the smallest and most common oscillator, found by John Conway in 1969. It is one of only a handful of known oscillators that is a polyomino, and it is the only known finite oscillator that is one cell thick (although the pentadecathlon is "almost" one cell thick in that there is a one cell thick pattern that is a grandparent of it, and the infinite version of the worker bee is one cell thick).
Blinkers are very commonly formed in a set of four called the traffic light; they can similarly be born in two potential sets of six, the interchanges. There is also a fairly common constellation of four blinkers and two boat-ties.
When phased correctly, blinkers can provide a purpose similar to an induction coil as seen on the overweight emulator, and can sometimes be positioned so that it either contacts the oscillating segment directly or is one cell away from it similarly to normal induction coils.
The blinker can also be a stationary segment known as "line" in certain still lifes; the most basic of these being integral sign but can also be used to connect any number of pre-blocks, tubs, beehives, loaves, mangoes, hooks, claws, etc. together. One example is boat line hook.
The blinker can function as a transparent catalyst in a certain reaction where it is converted into a traffic light predecessor, which a fishhook (or another catalyst that engages in the same type of catalyzing reaction, such as an eater 2) then converts back to a blinker in the same position. This rephases the blinker, so it can only be used in odd-period oscillators, such as 66P13 and the p47 pre-pulsar shuttle. In addition, worker bee and 50P35 involve a similar reaction.
- Main article: List of common oscillators
The blinker is more than one hundred times as common in Achim Flammenkamp's census as the second most common oscillator, the toad. The blinker is also the most common object in that census and the second most common object on Adam P. Goucher's Catagolue, with the other object in the top two being the block in both censuses. The apparent difference is a result of block frequency differing, not blinker frequency.[note 1]
About two thirds of blinkers form from traffic lights, including partial ones (such as interchanges, or if something interrupts its evolution).
There are two 2-glider collisions, one perpendicular and the other head-on, that create a blinker via a sequence named "angel" as shown below. Another perpendicular 2-glider collision also creates a blinker.
- It can be explained by Catagolue using a soup with empty space around it, allowing Herschels, which could easily have hit another object if it was a torus, to complete their sequence and form blocks.
- Achim Flammenkamp (September 7, 2004). "Most seen natural occurring ash objects in Game of Life". Retrieved on January 15, 2009.
- Adam P. Goucher. "Statistics". Catagolue. Retrieved on June 24, 2016.