Welcome to the Squirm3 homepage.

Squirm3 is an artificial chemistry simulation - a world where we can make up our own rules of construction and let them rip. Forget all that chemistry they made you learn in school, we're going to make it all up as we go along.

The aim is to simulate evolution, the process in which natural selection and mutation can lead to complex, sophisticated design. The biology on this planet is amazingly rich; we have plants, birds, fish, insects ... all made of the same chemical stuff, all with their own tricks for extracting energy from the environment around them and making more copies of themselves.

Given the amazing computer games and special effects out there, it is perhaps surprising that evolution has never been successfully simulated on computer - no system has demonstrated a significant increase in the complexity of their simulated agents. Many of them are capable of adapting their behaviour to their environment but never in an open-ended way.

Meanwhile, the most popular theory is that life on Earth started when, through random interactions, RNA polymers became capable of catalysing copies of themselves. Inevitably the ones that were better at making copies replicated faster  - and evolution has never looked back.

So, to simulate open-ended, creative evolution perhaps we need to go for a really low-level simulation, something where there are no given concepts of 'creature', 'turn left', 'eat food'. In the search for a representation in which to simulate interesting evolution perhaps we need to go all the way down to the chemistry of life itself.

Tim J. Hutton (web, email)
Summer 2002