June 26, 1997: The Vanished Butterflies | June 25 | June 27 | 1997 | FOTD Home |

Fractal
visionaries:

Today's fractal looks like an object of some sort, but I just can't
place what it is that the picture reminds me of. One thing
that
immediately comes to mind is that wonderful series of "Circle Limit"
drawings by M.C. Escher, where the objects increase to infinity as the
limit of the circle is approached, almost as though they were imbedded
in a space of constant negative curvature. But if this is the
case, today's fractal should have been called "Octagon Limit".

This fractal is a good example of the type of image I prefer -- one
that subtly hints at something familiar without actually picturing
it. It is this hint of familiarity that turns people on to
fractals, just as it does to art of all kinds.

There is no reason for people to be put off by the mathematical aspect
of fractals. One can appreciate a rainbow without an
understanding of the laws of reflection and refraction. One
can
also appreciate a fractal without understanding the complex math behind
it. In fact, I no longer bring up the topic of math unless I
see
that the person is actually interested in it.

The world around us is filled with fractal shapes. It always
has
been filled with fractal shapes -- we simply did not recognize them
before we discovered fractals. When I see the mountains and
clouds, I see fractals; when I see a leaf, I see a fractal network;
when I see the Arctic ice cap photographed from a plane, I see a
fractal pattern. When I see a fractal on the screen, I see
these
physical things and much more.

Certainly some of those fractal patterns that remind us of nothing
actually do have undiscovered physical counterparts, perhaps on other
planets, perhaps yet undiscovered on our own. And I never
stop
wondering the ultimate thought -- is the universe the greatest fractal
of all?

Today's fractal may not be the greatest fractal of all, but it's an
acceptable one. After all, it's difficult to come up with the
greatest fractal of all every day. The image is that of an
obscure slice of the (-Z)^1.1 mandeloid. The finished image
has
been posted as always to a.b.p.f. and a.f.p.

For tomorrow -- who knows. We'll just have to wait and see.

Jim Muth

jamth@mindspring.com

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