Thursday, May 10, 2012

Animated prime number machine

This uses the HTML5 canvas architecture, so no IE8 or less; sorry. I have only tested it with Google Chrome, so it may not work in other HTML5-capable browsers. If you find this to be the case, please leave feedback with any errors you see, and what browser version you're using, and I'll see what I can do to get it working for you.

The principle of the prime number machine is of rolling coins and elevators. I created this because I thought it would be neat to have a way for prime numbers to be produced by a set of mechanical rules rather than with pure mathematical methods. Here is a basic description of the rules:

  • If a coin rolls into an empty box, it creates an elevator with the height shown on the coin, and a new empty box appears.
  • If a coin hits the top or bottom of an existing elevator, it bounces off with no effect.
  • The coin's number increments after each cycle
  • The elevators go down a floor during each cycle until the top car is flush with the ground line, then they begin going back up to where they started.

This results in two basic phenomena: All new elevators correspond to prime numbers. When a coin does not have a prime number on it, all of the elevators corresponding to the coin's prime factors have a car flush with the ground.


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