Fractals & Chaos Recap for 9/6

We finished our discussion of the ideas inspired by the Jurassic Park excerpt, including looking at a few theories of using fractals to predict financial markets (see the silver and bitcoin articles here if you’d like to read them more closely).

From there, we discussed last night’s assigned reading and used it to form some properties about fractals. In particular:

  • They demonstrate self-symmetry or self-similarity (each part could be viewed as a scaled-down version of the whole thing)
  • They are Non-Euclidean (for a Euclidean curve, no matter how wiggly it is, zooming in far enough eventually makes it look linear, but for a fractal zooming in just reveals the same level of detail).
  • They have fractional dimension (unlike one-dimensional lines, two-dimensional squares, or three-dimensional cubes, fractals live in a space between and could have a non-integer dimension)

This last idea is, of course, pretty wild, and if you feel skeptical about it, you should. Hold on to that skepticism! Let me convince you.

We finished the day making a brief list of ideas of fractals, including snowflakes, ferns, feathers, trees, and river deltas. Your homework is twofold:

  1. Continue to think of examples of fractals in the world around you, and
  2. Read over the excerpt from Edward O Wilson’s book The Diversity of Life: Living Labyrinths.  As before, make a note of 2-3 passages that seems significant or questions you have.

 

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