Benoit Mandelbrot

This Mandelbrot fractal zoom, the longest I could find is put here in memory of the scientist and mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot who died in October 2010, age 85.

Last Lights On – Mandelbrot fractal zoom to 6.066 e228 (2^760) from teamfresh on Vimeo.

He is best known as the father of fractal geometry. His Mandelbrot set, from my limited understanding of someone who failed their maths GCSE ‘O’ level three times, works on the formula z=z^2 +c (z=z squared + c). c is a constant and z changes each time it ‘goes through’ the formula. In this formula z comes out different every time and generates the incredible patterns shown in the biggest Mandlebrot zoom-in I could find – above. Click on the icon with an arrow at each corner (right of the horizontal time indicator below the movie) to fill your whole screen and turn your volume down unless you like techno pumping hard garage sounds – or whatever it is.

This pattern has a relevence for me as it shows:

1. Art and science can be inextricably linked

2. Infinite diversity can emerge from apparent simplicity

3. Simplicity demonstrates more genius than complexity

It was E. F. Schumacher who said, “Any fool can make things complicated, but it requires a genius to make things simple”. This is one of my favourite quotes.

I was walking across the moors looking at the sky last weekend. They had a cloud structure very similar to the shapes that the ebbing tide makes in sand. The sky mixes elements of air, moisture and heat, the ocean mixes water and earth to make patterns so similar to be almost indistinguishable.

When I look at the Mandlebrot set in action it reminds me of how so many forms in nature seem linked in a similar way. The shape of a molecule echoes in a solar system. The microcosm is found in the macrocosm and vice-versa. ‘As above, so below’.

It helps me see that underlying ‘laws’ in nature create the utterly beautiful forms in evidence. It shows me that these forms are generated by genius so pure, so simple, that we are completely unable to perceive it!

Thank you Benoit, for your gift.

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