• Choose a MODE: Manual or Automatic (default is Manual).
  • Choose a COLOUR: White, Red, Green, Blue (default is White).
  • Choose a RESOLUTION: 10x10, 20x20, 30x30 (default is 10x10).
  • In Manual MODE, click anywhere in the coloured grid to start a wave.
  • In Automatic MODE waves will be automatically generated.
  • You can have more than one wave active at one time.
  • 10x10 provides the best performance. Higher RESOLUTIONs operate more slowly.


The Wave Machine allows you to explore the properties of excitable media through the application of cellular automata. In a cellular automaton, there are identical elements, usually located in a regular array (matrix) that can be one, two or even higher dimensional. The update rule for each 'cell' in the matrix depends on that cell and some of its nearest neighbours. We explored this concept using a popular application of these principles in The Game of Life, an Article 19 production released last year. But what about the waves . . well, there are many systems in which a wave of some type can pass through a medium, after which the medium cannot support another wave until a suitable length of time has passed. This is called the refractory period. Media that display the joint properties of wave propogation and refractoriness are called excitable media.

Thanks to Daniel Kaplan & Leon Glass, authors of Understanding Nonlinear Dynamics.

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