Monday, February 02, 2009

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Zombie, Spock and the Large Hadron Collider

The Rules

Scisors cuts Paper covers Rock crushes Lizard evades Large Hadron Collider cures Zombie brains Spock bends Scissors decapitates Lizard poisons Spock vaporizes Rock trips Zombie shreds Paper reprograms Large Hadron Collider magnetizes Scissors stabs Zombie swallows Lizard eats Paper disproves Spock deactivates Large Hadron Collider nukes Rock blunts Scissors.


The Brain Rule

  • Zombie eats Brains
  • Brains overcome Large Hadron Collider
  • Brains are found in Spock, Lizard and written on Paper.

The Tool Rule

  • Spock breaks Tools
  • Tools defeat Zombie
  • Rock, Scissors and Large Hadron Collider can be used as Tools.

The Stupid Rule

  • Large Hadron Collider zaps Stupid things
  • Stupid things kill Lizard
  • Zombie, Rock and Scissors are all Stupid.


A few days ago, my friend's wife posted on Facebook that she was looking forward to purchasing this t-shirt from Think Geek. Now, Think Geek has a lot of cool stuff and I could go on and on with the coolness of it's wares, but when she posted this I had never heard of this game before and was very intrigued! Now, this friend and others have long ago recommended that I start watching CBS's Big Bang Theory but to this day I've yet to get around to it, but I did catch the relevant scene on YouTube while searching for the more cryptic version with the Zombie gesture and Large Hadron Collider gesture! as mentioned in the Think Geek article. Now, those may have been a joke, but I figured, with all due respect to the creator of the first adaptation, Sam Kass, that I might take a crack at the 7-hand gestures version of this classic game! And so, without further adieu, here it is: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Zombie, Spock and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC):

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock

First, a review. The game Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock is a creative adaptation of the classic 3 hand-gesture game with the following hand gestures:

  • The Rock is a closed fist.
  • The Paper is a flat hand, fingers together.
  • The Scissors is a fist with the index and middle fingers extended (as in a cutting motion).
  • The Lizard is a C-shape, with the thumb on the bottom and the fingers curved above (as in a lizard's mouth).
  • The Spock is a ש (shin) or Live Long and Prosper or a Sontaran, as in fingers extended, with thumb separated from the index and middle fingers and those two fingers separated from the ring and pinkie fingers.

The rules for Sam Kass's game are thus as follows:

  • Scissors cuts Paper …
  • … which covers Rock …
  • … which crushes Lizard …
  • … which poisons Spock …
  • … who bends Scissors …
  • … which decapitates Lizard …
  • … which eats Paper …
  • … which disproves Spock …
  • … who vaporizes Rock …
  • … which blunts Scissors.

Note: The likely reason Paper beats Spock is that the paper contains writing which contradicts the word of Spock, making him illogical and therefore not the real Spock! Also, Sam Kass prefers to say Spock smashes Scissors and Rock crushes Scissors. Smashing anything would be too undignified for Mr. Spock IMHO, and as Think Geek suggests bending the Scissors; I prefer this. As for what the Rock does to the Scissors, I have always heard it as blunt, and using blunt avoids repeating the verb to crush.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Zombie, Spock and the Large Hadron Collider

This game could be extended to 7 hand gestures as follows:

  • The Zombie is a limp-wristed gesture, with all fingers opened.
  • The Large Hadron Collider, LHC, or just Collider, is a fist with the thumb and index finger extended, index pointing outward. This gesture superficially resembles a gun, since it is a gesture of the hadron particles gun which releases the accelerated particles into an increasingly rapid variable magnetic field.

Each of the new gestures needs to relate to an existing gesture such that it defeats 3 and 3 defeat it and that the pattern is symmetrical, as can be seen in the attached diagram. First, define the rules:

  • Rock trips Zombie.
  • Scissors stabs Zombie.
  • Zombie shreds Paper.
  • Zombie swallows Lizard.
  • Zombie brains Spock.
  • LHC cures Zombie.
  • LHC nukes Rock.
  • LHC magnetizes Scissors.
  • Lizard evades LHC.
  • Spock deactivates LHC.
  • Paper reprograms LHC.

So, tracing our Pascal Path through all the actions:

  • Scisors cuts Paper …
  • … which covers Rock …
  • … which crushes Lizard …
  • … which evades LHC …
  • … which cures Zombie …
  • … who brains Spock …
  • … who bends Scissors …
  • … which decapitates Lizard …
  • … which poisons Spock …
  • … who vaporizes Rock …
  • … which trips Zombie …
  • … who shreds Paper …
  • … which reprograms LHC …
  • … which magnetizes Scissors …
  • … which stabs Zombie …
  • … who swallows Lizard …
  • … which eats Paper …
  • … which disproves Spock …
  • … who deactivates LHC …
  • … which nukes Rock …
  • … which blunts Scissors.

Why the order was changed

Although those rules are fair (3 win, 3 loose and one ties for a given gesture), they don't lend themselves well to the recursive symmetry of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock so I suggest although the order is Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Zombie, Spock and the Large Hadron Collider, the game be played Scissors, Paper, Rock, Lizard, Large Hadron Collider, Zombie and Spock.

Replacing LHC with a Gun

Since the suggested gesture for the LHC is very similar to a gun, and Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Zombie, Spock, Gun is easier to say than Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Zombie, Spock and the Large Hadron Collider, here is how the rules would read if the LHC were replaced by a Gun.

  • Gun cracks Rock.
  • Paper jams Gun.
  • Gun splits Scissors.
  • Lizard evades Gun.
  • Gun shoots Zombie.
  • Spock disarms Gun.

Alternate Actions

Some of the alternate verbs I considered for the game are as follows:

  • Paper muffles Rock.
  • Paper softens Rock.
  • Rock scratches Scissors.
  • Rock crushes Scissors.
  • Spock smashes Scissors.
  • Spock disassembles Scissors.
  • Spock breaks Scissors.
  • Paper refutes Spock.
  • Rock bludgeons Zombie.
  • Scissors impales Zombie.
  • Zombie reads Paper.
  • Zombie wears Paper.
  • Zombie dons Paper.
  • Zombie tears Paper.
  • Zombie rips Paper.
  • Zombie licks Lizard.
  • Zombie infects Spock.
  • Zombie extracts Spock's Brain (and takes it to Sigma Draconis VI).
  • LHC transforms Rock.
  • Paper reconfigures LHC.
  • LHC supersedes Scissors.
  • LHC mutates Zombie.
  • LHC atomizes anything.
  • LHC burns anything.
  • LHC combusts anything.
  • LHC melts anything.
  • LHC zaps anything.
  • Lizard crawls under LHC.
  • Lizard hides from Gun.
  • Gun splits Rock.
  • Gun disintegrates Rock.

Alternate Rules for Large Hadron Collider

Before my co-worker suggested that a Zombie could tear instead of wear or read Paper, I really didn't like the idea of the Zombie defeating the lowly paper. I came upon the idea that a better match would be if the Paper could confuse the Zombie, since really, Zombies can not read and why would a Zombie take the time to wear Paper or turn it into a paper hat? But, if a Zombie is to be defeated by Paper, it must, to rebalance the equation, now defeat something else. As I liked the Scissors and Rock already defeating the Zombie, that left the LHC. Hence, the Zombie can destroy the LHC by smashing it blindly. Finally, the LHC and Paper needed to be changed since the Paper now defeated to many gestures and the LHC now defeated too few. So, instead of the Paper defeating the LHC by reprogramming it, the LHC can now combust or burn the Paper. Thus, we have the following new rules with respect to these three hand gestures:

  • Paper confuses Zombie.
  • Zombie smashes LHC.
  • LHC combusts Paper.

Unfortunately, this change does not create a symmetric graph like the original version of Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Zombie Spock and the Large Hadron Collider, even if it is balanced. For this reason, and for the reason that a better verb has been suggested for how the Zombie defeats a piece of Paper than the original ones, I prefer the original rules of the game.

Alternate Rules for Gun

Now, if we replace the Large Hadron Collider with the more basic Gun design, as above, and we allow that nasty old Paper to defeat our intrepid Zombie once more, we are left with a different conundrum. Whereas it's easy to imagine a Zombie smashing an LHC, it's less reasonable to consider him doing so with a simple Gun. In fact, it is more likely that after fiddling with the gun for a while, the Zombie is more likely to shoot himself re-dead than anything else. So, that leaves the Scissors and the Rock that the Zombie will now be able to defeat. Since I like the idea of the Zombie also being stupid enough to stab himself with the child-proof, safety Scissors, I decided to change how the Zombie interacts with the Rock. Thus, I simply state that the Zombie picks up the Rock and throws it away, not bothering to fret with it this way or that. That now leaves the Rock and the Paper to deal with. Superficially, it would seem blasphemy to even consider changing how the traditional Rock interacts with the proverbial Paper. But, if you throw a Rock at a piece of Paper, which one is going to give? Obviously the Paper! And if you wrap a Rock in Paper, then try and lift that Paper, a sufficiently heavy Rock will just rip its way through the Paper and onto the floor. So doesn't it make more sense to have Rock beat both Paper and Scissors? Now, that wouldn't make the 3 hand gestures game very fun: One, two, three, shoot… Rock tied again!? But with 5 or 7 gestures, it now becomes possible for the old Rock of yore to become master of both Paper and Scissors while still being defeated by the 2, or 3 of the 4, remaining gestures, respectively. I therefore present a set of alternate rules involving the Gun.

  • Rock tears Paper.
  • Paper confuses Zombie.
  • Zombie throws Rock.

As with the previous example, this modification to Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Zombie Spock Gun lacks the symmetry of the original, and as it also lacks the Large Hadron Collider in it, it is my least favorite modification, despite fixing what I like to think of is the problem with Paper and Rocks.