Space Colonization

May 2021

Although I could expand about the questionnable space race going on in the world right now between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos I'm going to keep the timey-wimey space things for later and talk about a different kind of Space Colonization.

Space Colonization (SC) is another growth algorithm originally described by Adam Runions from the algorithmic botany group that proposes a model for the growth of branching structures such as trees, leaves, vein-like systems like the Gorgonia Flabellum coral, but also your respiratory and circulatory systems. Moreover, when staging multiple growing bodies, SC naturally induces the Crown Shyness phenomenom, which (you can see on the left picture) is when trees leave a little place for jesus inbetween each other as they grow.

the space colonization algorithm

What's fairly interesting about SC is that it uses what we call auxin sources, which are basically growth hormones, more commonly known as food. To understand how it works, you'll have to stop thinking of trees as you know them, and picture something closer to a starving alien plant thing craving for pink dots.

To initiate the simulation, we randomly place food pink dots everywhere, and place one root branch anywhere. Here I'm going to place the root branch at the bottom so that it grows upwards like a tree.

To be a little more explicit, let me re-describe step by step what is happening. In step 1 you can see that four auxin's are in range and get attributed to the same branch, the other four auxins which don't have a dotted trail to the branch are out of range (for now). In step 2, four new branches are created and grow towards their respective auxins, in step 3 the reached auxins are deactivated, meaning they won't attract any more branches.

As we repeat all three steps, more branches are added, meaning that more auxins can be within distance to attract branches. And that's it. Here's a simulation where you can see the auxins as well as the growing tree and as always you can click to restart it.

I made the auxins pink for that cherry blossom vibe, which I'll probably dig into later when I get around to making this all over again with a little more aesthetics. For a presentation of the algorithm I really wanted to keep this as simple as possible but there are so many graphical tweaks potential in SC that I'm bound to come back and show you. Anyways, ttyl !