## Wednesday, August 19, 2009

### Fractals

Dear Lucy,

I watched a Nova program last night about Fractal Geometry that just wowed me. Now, before you go scoffing at the fact that this is old news to the world, it is new to me.

The basic definition is:

A fractal is a geometric object which can be divided into parts, each of which is similar to the original object. Fractals are said to possess infinite detail, and are generally self-similar and independent of scale. In many cases a fractal can be generated by a repeating pattern, typically a recursive or iterative process. The term fractal was coined in 1975 by Beno�t Mandelbrot, from the Latin fractus or "broken".

Fractals of many kinds were originally studied as mathematical objects. Fractal geometry is the branch of mathematics which studies the properties and behaviour of fractals. It describes many situations which cannot be explained easily by classical geometry, and has often been applied in science, technology, and computer-generated art. The conceptual roots of the fractals can be traced to attempts to measure the size of objects for which traditional definitions based on Euclidean geometry or calculus fail.

Fractals, it seems are in all of nature right down to our blood and are being used to further medical advances, the study of rain forests, art...everything.

So much of the program went straight over my head, but the part I did get was that even the minutest part of the natural world has a mathematical formulae.

A very intricate, complex design.

Which points to a designer.

God???

The picture is an art piece from fractals.

--Kathy

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I love fractal art. It's very cool to look at and to contemplate!

ReplyDeleteBut I disagree (not that you asked for my opinion, so please feel free to ignore that I offer it *grin*) with the idea that the presence of organization points to, or logically indicates a creator. Organization is a basic property of matter as opposed to entropy which is a more-or-less chaotic dispersal of energy (though, also curiously ordered).

For instance, the structure in a diamond results from a 3-dimensional array of carbon atoms with few impurities. This crystaline structure is because of the forces that the bonding electrons exert on one another from a single carbon atom. So, if you look at a 2-carbon array or a 2million carbon array, they have similar shapes (a fractal). But if you examine *why* the bonding electrons behave the way they do, you ar edealing with the nonsensical world of quantum mechanics whereing it is impossible to know anything, one can merely describe the probabilities of things happening based on previous observations.

Intricate, complex design that repeats can be described by a mathematical algorythm, but that algorythm didn't create them; it only describes them. More precisely what it describes are the results of predictable physical interactions of matter and energy. It doesn't always even elucidate the process that lead to the observable design, but it can predict the pattern's visual design at smaller and greater scales.

Hey Brian,

ReplyDeleteWow, that was some comment. Of course, I only understood the first line!

But, could it be that the behavior of the bonding electrons is due to God/Godess and therefore beyond our finite realm of understanding, and that is why quantum mechanics seems nonsensical?

Oh, and please, if you answer this, you MUST do so in "Dick and Jane" fashion. See Dick run. Run Dick run, is about my level of understanding of all things scientific!

--Kathy

Hey Kathy,

ReplyDeleteOf course it's possible that the bahavior of he electrons is due to a god/goddess. But there's no indication that it is.

So for instance, owe nce explained that things fell to the earth because god created them to. Then we said, things fall to the earth because matter has the property of "gravity" and god created gravity as a part of matter.

Now we say that gravity is a force that is observed between any two pieces of matter that are exchanging "gravitons".

While we could say that it's that way because god said so, the god idea is kind of a glue-on. It's always another way of saying, "and then we don't know why." So we just have historically chalked it up to god until someone comes along and explains how it really works right before being burned at the stake.

Mind you, the corollary is also not true: simply because we can't explain things now and might come up with an explanation in the future, we can't say absolutely that god isn't in the machine.