Thursday, 21 October 2010

Fractals, ferns and frost...

R.I.P Benoit Mandelbrot the mathematician who showed elements of the beauty of nature through his calculations of fractals.

 "Why is geometry often described as cold and dry? One reason lies in its inability to describe the shape of a cloud, a mountain, a coastline or a tree." The approach that he pioneered helps us to describe nature as we actually see it, and so expand our way of thinking.

On Long Road we have seen several examples of natural fractals this week - the first being the ferns, that when broken down create smaller and smaller copies of the larger plant. F has experimented by gleefully pulling some of the last green specimens to pieces.

Next looking up into the sky at the high cirrus and small cumulus clouds moving above us. It is at the edges we noticed the swirling and curling associated with Mandelbrot's set.

....Finally this morning the first frost came, and the sharp intake of cold air was a pleasure as we stepped out. Jack Frost had been hard at work  - as Long Road lies at the bottom of a small valley it is always that bit colder than the surrounding area - we were able to fully appreciate the frost patterns on the slightly wilting foliage and notch up another fractal spot.

Nice article on fractals here:

1 comment:

  1. A boy from David Attenborough's school discovered a 560 million year old fossil called Charnia according to his engaging new BBC series First Life. This was the first ever Precambrian fossil and a creature which looked just like a fern used fractal branching to form its large body. Apparently though this was an evolutionary dead end for creatures as it soon, well, 10 million years later, unhinged itself from the rock to became more complex and favour moving around.