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
Patent No. 6236968. 2001.
Sleep prevention car system
Patent for the design of an AI-based “artificial passenger” that helps keep a driver alert with conversation, jokes, stories. When the system detects drowsiness from vocal or visual cues, it could switch topics or even spray the driver with cold water—a time-tested backup to “Wake up!”
Patent No. 7545978. 2009.
Large-scale video stream monitoring.
Cameras capture everything imaginable these days, creating an overwhelming amount of footage. This patented innovation uses analytics to distill torrents of video into an orderly flow of information. Now computers can recognize what’s important—zeroing in on the man driving dangerously—while leaving the guy belting out ’80s power ballads to work on his falsetto in peace.
Sometimes the greatest scientific breakthroughs happen by chance. Dropping a piece of silicon into hydrofluoric acid, for instance, allowed IBM Fellow Bernard Meyerson to discover the silicon germanium chip. The rest, as they say, is history, as SiGe influences how our WiFi, cell phones and GPS devices work today.
Inventing is great. But sometimes it’s fun to break things apart, too.
(Thanks for the photo Stefania!)
Gone, but not forgotten. Time recording machines came from a patented IBM innovation.
(Thanks for the photo, Heidi!)
So long, silicon chip? This innovation for one-atom thick graphene transistors can transmit electrical pulses 1,000 times faster than silicon. That could give a jolt to the rate that our computers and electronics improve—and uphold Moore’s Law for decades to come. See the newly-awarded Patent No. 8,344,358.
That little, one-finger, laptop doohickey (or as we like to call it, a TrackPoint pointing stick) came from a patented IBM innovation.
(Thanks for the photo Dimitri!)
(Cool screensaver. Thanks for the photo, Silvia!)
One Smart Century:
No one earned more patents from 1993-2012. But in fairness, we did have 80 years to prepare.