n. 1. A cellular-automata game invented by John Horton
Conway and first introduced publicly by Martin Gardner
(`Scientific American', October 1970); the game's popularity
had to wait a few years for computers on which it could reasonably
be played, as it's no fun to simulate the cells by hand. Many
hackers pass through a stage of fascination with it, and hackers at
various places contributed heavily to the mathematical analysis of
this game (most notably Bill Gosper at MIT, who even implemented
life in TECO
!; see Gosperism
). When a hacker mentions
`life', he is much more likely to mean this game than the
magazine, the breakfast cereal, or the human state of existence.
2. The opposite of USENET
. As in Get a life!