The blinker is the smallest and most common oscillator, found by John Conway in March 1970.[1] 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).

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Pattern type Oscillator
Oscillator type Muttering moat
Family Clock
Number of cells 3
Bounding box 3×3
Frequency class 0.1
Period 2
Mod 1
Heat 4
Volatility 0.80
Strict volatility 0.80
Rotor type Pole 2
Discovered by John Conway
Year of discovery 1970

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 block 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 tub.


The blinker is more than one hundred times as common in Achim Flammenkamp's census as the second most common oscillator, the toad.[2] The blinker is also the second most common object on Adam P. Goucher's Catagolue.[3]

See also


  1. Dean Hickerson's oscillator stamp collection. Retrieved on March 14, 2020.
  2. Achim Flammenkamp (September 7, 2004). "Most seen natural occurring ash objects in Game of Life". Retrieved on January 15, 2009.
  3. Adam P. Goucher. "Statistics". Catagolue. Retrieved on June 24, 2016.
  • 3P2.1 at Heinrich Koenig's Game of Life Object Catalogs
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