Posts from 2003

John von Neumann’s 100th Birthday

(This post was originally published on the NKS Forum.)

Today (December 28, 2003) would have been John von Neumann’s 100th birthday—if he had not died at age 54 in 1957. I’ve been interested in von Neumann for many years—not least because his work touched on some of my most favorite topics. He is mentioned in 12 separate places in my book—second in number only to Alan Turing, who appears 19 times.

I always feel that one can appreciate people’s work better if one understands the people themselves better. And from talking to many people who knew him, I think I’ve gradually built up a decent picture of John von Neumann as a man.

He would have been fun to meet. He knew a lot, was very quick, always impressed people, and was lively, social and funny. Continue reading

Cellular Automata from Christmas 1983

(This post was originally published on the NKS Forum.)

There’s a certain complexity to many of the characteristic forms used in Christmas images: snowflakes, Christmas trees, frost patterns, etc.

And as in so many other cases, it’s rather easy to capture the essence of these forms using very simple cellular automaton rules.

So that means it’s easy to use cellular automaton rules to make Christmas-like images.

Well, going through some of my archives recently, I was reminded that I did that almost exactly twenty years ago—for Christmas 1983. (The actual file date is November 22, 1983.) Continue reading