Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Power Players: Benoit Mandelbrot

Last thursday Benoit Mandelbrot died in Cambridge, Mass.  Mandelbrot was a hugely important figure in mathematics: he refined the concept and study of fractals--an object that looks the same the closer you zoom in on it.  The discovery of fractals showed the world that mathematics could be applied to realms previously off-limits to rigorous inquiry.  Just as calculus unlocked the mysteries of change, fractal geometry revealed the inner structure of nature's jagged contours.  A nice obituary is here.

In honor of Mandelbrot, I'm re-posting this spectacular documentary about fractal geometry done by Nova.  It includes many great clips of Mandelbrot and of the crazy computer-generated imagery we've all seen but never really understood.

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