Hunting the Hidden Dimension

They're odd-looking shapes you may never have heard of, but they're everywhere around you—the jagged repeating forms called fractals. If you know what to look for, you can find them in the clouds, in mountains, even inside the human body.

In 1958, Benoit Mandelbrot begins using computers to explore vexing problems in math. They help him to understand repeating patterns in nature in an entirely new way. He coins the term fractal to describe them ... Full Story »

Posted by Fabrice Florin
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Subjects: Sci/Tech, Entertainment
Member Tags: Mathematics, Animation, Special Effects, Visualization
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Posted by: Posted by Fabrice Florin - Nov 2, 2008 - 10:33 PM PST
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Edited by: Fabrice Florin - Nov 2, 2008 - 10:33 PM PST

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Fabrice Florin
3.9
by Fabrice Florin - Nov. 2, 2008

(VIDEO - 50 mins.) Excellent documentary on fractals, a mathematical discovery which makes computer visualizations possible -- from medical imaging to Pixar movies. This program manages to present this complex mathematical theory in simple terms, based on factual evidence from many authoritative sources. It also helps us better understand nature and the process of scientific discovery.

One of the first pioneers to bring fractals to life on the computer was Loren Carpenter, a young Boeing engineer now a technology guru at Pixar. Loren is featured prominently in the program, and is a personal friend, as well as a great source of inspiration.

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Marsha Iverson
4.8
by Marsha Iverson - Nov. 3, 2008

It's hard to outdo NOVA, particularly for explaining science to non-scientists. Using interviews, archival film, diagrams, and brilliant computer graphics, this program brings together the supposedly separate disciplines of math, art, computers, medicine, mapmaking, erosion patterns, ecology, and more...all unified through a mathematical equation representing self-similarity and repetition. This program connects classroom math to the health of the planet, as well as fashion design. When it comes to informing and inspiring, it doesn't get better than this.

As a chronic math phobe, I find this compelling program delightfully intriguing. For a person whose math education relied on fingers, toes, and slide rules, I can only imagine the possibilities for learning now, using the advanced techniques of computer-based modeling and integrated analyses of multiple variables, and putting them all into breathtaking patterns. I never thought of mathematics as a creative endeavor. Clearly, I was quite wrong.

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Chris Pall
4.7
by Chris Pall - Nov. 4, 2008

It's in depth, it's on an interesting topic.

See Full Review » (6 answers)

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