Tuesday 26 October 2010

Sensitive dependence on initial conditions

We had romanesco for our evening meal tonight.

This seasonal treat is normally a joyful time, at least for a fractal-loving, nature-nurturing, broccoli eater like myself, if not the rest of those around the table.

This zany vegetable, a pseudo punk cauliflower with dyed and spikey hair, usually fills me with a sense of wonder (hands up, who thought I was going to say "wind"?). Proof, if proof were needed, that a simple complexity, or possibly a complex simplicity, underpins the forces and processes all around us. Chaos.

From a single, green, fern leaf to the multi-coloured patterns seen on posters, chaos theory is a tantalising glimpse of how things came to be. For my generation, this was summed up and delivered into our lives by one image, Mandelbrot's eponymous Set.

With the great man's passing, earlier this month, the world is a poorer place.

Rest in peace, Benoit. With your album-art computations you brought more happiness into my world than it is reasonable to suppose a mathematician should. Thank you.

1 comment:

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

I've never had romanesco before, but I love cauliflower so I might give it a try!