Cambridge – the city where even a train station demonstrates advanced mathematical concepts


Last year this new train station, “Cambridge North”, opened in Cambridge, UK — with its walls cut into this mesmerizing pattern.

A bunch of mathematically-minded folks started sending snapshots of it to Stephen Wolfram, the computer scientist famous for studying cellular automata. Back in the 80s, he’d famously created 256 simple rulesets that, beginning with single cell, would produce complex, byzantine patterns. When Wolfram looked at the Cambridge North building, he recognized it as his favorite pattern of all time: “Rule 30”.

Rule 30 is famous for producing chaotic, seemingly-random results, which you can see in just the first few dozen iterations:
The ultimate result of a Rule-30 sequence might be even useful in crypto, because it’s pretty hard to work backwards to its initial state. Rule 30 is also found in nature, including in the patterns on the shells of Conus textile.

Find out more about this amazing design here – in Cambridge we never stop learning.

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