Recently I watched a very interesting programme on TV about fractals in nature. Now I’d heard of this word ‘fractal’ but never really knew what it meant, or how amazing fractals really are until I saw this documentary. To be honest I thought fractals were some kind of computer-generated patterns and indeed they can be BUT they also appear in nature long before computers were even invented. This programme really opened my eyes to the beauty and intricateness of nature, and how all of nature is not just some haphazard chaotic random happenings but an intelligent and carefully thought out network…and we are part of it!!! We humans are fractals too! Isn’t that amazing?
So, first of all a very short maths lesson (and I mean very short…extremely short because I’m NOT a mathematician), what is a fractal? The word ‘Fractal’ was coined by one of history’s most creative mathematicians, Benoit Mandelbrot, in his book, The Fractal Geometry of Nature. A fractal, from the Latin verb frangere (to break, or a fragment), is any pattern that reveals greater complexity as it is enlarged. Fractals graphically portray the notion of ‘worlds within worlds’. Actually that was more of a language lesson than a maths lesson. I’m not going to get into the really nitty gritty stuff because, quite frankly, it blows my mind (the brain is actually a fractal), so if you want the hard-core maths stuff you’re going to have to do your own research.
What interested me is the amazing number of fractals found in nature…nearly everything is a fractal or so it seems, from our bodies (or our organs), to snowflakes, rivers, clouds, leaves, trees, plants, crystal formations, mountain ranges…you name it there’s probably a fractal to be found. So I decided to do a bit of surfing the internet to find some lovely photos of fractals in nature for you…and here they are:
These are just some of the amazing fractals to be found in nature, there are so many more. So why am I so interested? Well, because this so forcefully affirms that we are part of a great network of life, so tightly bound to the natural world ~ The Web of Life!
Sources for photos