Thursday, August 20, 2009

More on Fractals

Dear Lucy,

As I continue down the "bunny trail" of fractals, here is some more information.

A fractal is a shape that, when you look at a small part of it, has a similar (but not necessarily identical) appearance to the full shape. Take, for example, a rocky mountain. From a distance, you can see how rocky it is; up close, the surface is very similar. Little rocks have a similar bumpy surface to big rocks and to the overall mountain.

Approximate fractals are easily found in nature. These objects display self-similar structure over an extended, but finite, scale range. Examples include clouds, snow flakes, crystals, mountain ranges, lightning, river networks, cauliflower or broccoli, and systems of blood vessels and pulmonary vessels. Coastlines may be loosely considered fractal in nature.

Trees and ferns are fractal in nature and can be modeled on a computer by using a recursive algorithm. This recursive nature is obvious in these examples—a branch from a tree or a frond from a fern is a miniature replica of the whole: not identical, but similar in nature. The connection between fractals and leaves are currently being used to determine how much carbon is contained in trees. This connection is hoped to help determine and solve the environmental issue of carbon emission and control.

When looking at fractal art, it is amazing how similar it is to the LSD influenced art of the 60's!


1 comment:

  1. Fractaliciousness! Glad to see you are having some fun with Fractals. They are cool. ;)