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
While Northern Hemispherians fill up on extra Vitamin D today, IBM researchers and Swiss engineers are looking to top off the energy needs of the planet. Using mirrored, solar tracking parabolic dishes, they’re prototyping a High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal System (HCPVT) that concentrates radiation as if shined on by 1,600 suns. Dotted across just a small fraction of the Earth’s surface, the project has the potential to replace all of our fossil and nuclear energy. Pretty cool stuff.
Now go outside and enjoy the summer solstice.
F̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶’̶e̶r̶ ̶U̶p̶!̶ Plug-er-in!
Out of the way gas-guzzlers. It’s estimated you’ll be sharing the road with 3 million electric vehicles by 2017. IBMer energy specialists are already preparing for the world adoption of EVs with a cloud-based electric vehicle charging system innovation. By putting electric cars in direct communication with the power grid, each plug-in seamlessly accesses vehicle I.Ds., battery storage info, energy transaction plans and payment details. Amazing to think that soon we’ll be watching the price-per-Kwh instead of the price-per-gallon. Explore more stories →
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?