What’s a fractal?
Just one of the main building blocks of the universe. Known as ‘God’s thumbprint,’ these simple math formulas reveal the intricate recursive patterns found within nature, yet still remain one of science’s best-kept secrets. Follow along as we explore the contours, curiosities and creator of this beautiful wonder of the computer age.
"A fractal is a way of seeing infinity." —Benoit B. Mandelbrot
Meet The Fellows
On Benoit and Fractal Follicles
"The last thing [Benoit] worked on was his memoirs. He died before they were finished. His wife and Merry Morse from IBM finished them up. It has been published and is called "The Fractalist" It came out in 2012. The cover photo is especially interesting, if you look at Benoit’s hair. His normally fuzzy hair has been turned into the boundary of the Mandelbrot Set. Its just brilliant. I wish I had thought of it.
Yale University Math Professor and DeVane Award Winner
Check out yesterday’s Reddit AMA transcript→
What the Fractal?
Forecasting trouble ahead
Hurricanes. Floods. Earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions. Nature’s big troublemakers are often outsmarted by the tiny fractal math formulas that help us minimize their destruction. By understanding fractal order and scale, scientists can forecast the size, location and timing of natural disasters, so we can better prepare for their arrival. Now, if only they could help us prepare for holiday credit card bills.
A Fractals Lunchbreak
Here’s a great reason to stay in for lunch today. Feast your eyes and your ears on this epic fractals animation.
"Benoit once told me that the best tasting bagels are those with a fractal distribution of holes. If the bagels are cooked at the right temperature, the carbon dioxide generated by the yeast forms bubbles with a fractal distribution. So before you buy a bunch of bagels, cut one open, look at the different hole sizes, and they range from very small to very large, they were cooked properly. Of course, you can always taste one bagel before buying a bunch from the same batch. But that’s not the "fractal way" to judge your food."
LASIK Pioneer, IBM Researcher
Got a question about Mandelbrot or fractals?
Join our live AMA on Reddit.
Today two of Benoit Mandelbrot’s closest colleagues will answering your questions about fractals and their discoverer. If you want a glimpse into Benoit and his life’s work, this can’t be missed.
10am to Noon EST: IBM Researcher James Wynne answers your questions about working with IBM Fellow Mandelbrot from 1971 to 2005.
Noon to 2pm EST: Yale University Professor Michael Frame takes your questions about teaching with Professor Mandelbrot from 1991 to 2010.
Find out how to participate here. And remember, AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything!”
"Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line."
IBM Fellow Emeritus