Molecular membranes

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A version of this applet using Sun's Java plug-in is available here.


This applet is demonstates an artificial chemistry which lends itself to the formation of molecular membranes.

Atoms come together into molecules, which are subsequently integrated into the wall of existing cells.

When they become too large the cells divide spontaneously.

The process was inspired by the amphipathic membranes that are present in living cells.

It seems possible that related mechanisms were responsible for the formation of the first cell walls constructed by early organisms.

For the under-specified

This is a demanding applet. If you lack CPU power, turn down the display options (on the right) to their minimum settings.

If you lack screen real-estate than maximise your browser - or - if you can - send it into sull screen mode. If you still need more space, try making the particles smaller.

Interactive controls

This is another applets with far too many controls. Many are fairly self-explanatory, but some are not terribly useful.

Two mouse buttons are used.

If you want to play with selecting objects, shift-click adds to a selection, and ctrl-click modifies an existing selection.

The main controls are at the bottom. Additional controls are placed at the right hand side.

Particle size has significant effects on the dynamics of the system (see the "inside out" initial configuration in the controls at the bottom).

  • Size - controls the sizes of the both types particles;
  • Speed - controls the energy/temperature of the system;
  • Friction - controls how much damping is applied to the Agents;
  • Gravity - sets the magnitude of the gravitational force;
  • Show - configures how frequently the display is updated;
  • Delay - configures how much delay occurs between frame updates;
  • Eggs - controls the number of large particles;
  • Egg size - controls the size of the large particles;
  • Step - allows a paused automata to be single-stepped;
  • Pause - allows the automata to be stopped and started;
  • Clear - completely blank all the universe's cells;
  • Restart - resets the system;


This applet can also be run as an application. Download this jar file (using shift-click) and double-click on it.

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