Fascinated by Fractals, But What Are They?

| 12/3/2008 12:15:18 PM

 Fractal Broccoli
Photo provided by Wikipedia Commons

I recently have become fascinated by fractals. I can’t even explain what they are, only that they look cool as can be and are challenging even to consider. Every now and then I love bumping into something that makes my brain twitch. Fractals are my most recent obsession. Here’s what Wikipedia says about them, just as a place to start:

A fractal is generally "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole,"[1] a property called self-similarity. The term was coined by Benoît Mandelbrot in 1975 and was derived from the Latin fractus meaning "broken" or "fractured." (See Wikipedia.org for more information…)

What has me fascinated is this photo of a type of Romanesco broccoli or cauliflower (it seems to be called one or the other about equally). Its repeating design is a fractal and it has me wondering what other fractals are observable in the natural world.

If you have any other examples, please let me know. Send photos. I’m fascinated …