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
Avoiding green vehicle blackouts of the future, 2012
innovation of the last 20 years
It’s probably not the best idea to run your toaster, microwave, dishwasher, five halogens and hair-dryer at the same time. Unless you enjoy hanging out with your electrician. Soon, though, we may have something else to stick into the wall—the family car. The Prius, Volt and Leaf all point to an electric-vehicle future. And that brings up a nutty little paradox. With millions of plug-in cars on the road gulping down electrons, won’t we actually need more electricity? And won’t it cost more to run them?
IBM’s been thinking about this for a while, and came up with US Patent No. 8,266,075. It’s a quite clever transaction system that combines energy prices, your car’s current battery level, and your own transport needs. Then it delivers up a schedule of charging times and prices. It’ll mean your little EV can grab some lightning bolts wherever there’s an outlet, without breaking the bank—or the world’s energy grid. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the foundation for the fuel network of the future. Now isn’t that an electrifying thought?