19th Jul 2012

Fractals in Nature

A fractal is a geometric figure that repeats itself on progressively smaller scales, so even if you zoom in an infinite number of times, the pattern will still roughly look like a copy of the whole. Fractals are interesting because they produce irregular shapes that can’t be represented by classical geometry or mathematically described in normal ways. They have the potential to help study galactic clusters, predict natural disasters, create random and organic graphic codes, and understand the movement of chaotic fluids. Fractal patterns also commonly appear in nature, but on a finite scale. They’re found in clouds, mountains, coastlines, snowflakes, crystals, lightning, rivers, cauliflower, and even systems of blood vessels—and by understanding the mathematics that defines them, we can better understand our world.

Images:

  1. River in the Midwest of the United States
  2. Glacier-capped Mountains in Tibet
  3. Grand Prismatic Hydrothermal Spring in Yellowstone National Park
  4. The Panhandle of Florida
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