Fractal patterns are beautiful, and they are everywhere. They exist on all scales from the microscopic to scales that are visible even from space. It’s a defining characteristic of fractals that no matter the scale, “self-similarity” is a key attribute.
These fractals are self-replicating patterns that occur in nature. From the tiniest spread of water from a dripping tap, to vast river systems, and from the shape of a small dust berm to the largest of sand dunes, the patterns are near indistinguishable from one size scale to another.
Some of these fractal patterns can be seen with the naked eye, while others require the use of technology to expose these complex branching, or fracturing, patterns.
Top right from these images is a microscopic view of a snowflake, and bottom right is the Orion galaxy. It’s incredible to imagine that these patterns that exist so diversely on Earth can be found in the very formations of star clusters and far off galaxies. These simple designs are another example that there is emergent behavior even in the make-up of the very complex systems in which we live.
As I mentioned last week, it may be impossible to predict the future but fractal geometry can also provide a way to understand complexity in “systems” as well as just in shapes. While there is a general trend in movement such as in the direction and branching of river systems, the exact path in which a river fractals cannot be determined due to the variety of complex factors involved. This model can be applied to so many others, and I would love to hear what comes to mind when you think of fractal patterns day to day.
A lot of these theories and a basic understanding of patterns and complex systems has completely changed they way I think. This week I’ve been working every day with fractal patterns as I begin to create my own designs for a clothing line that will hopefully launch in the next month. The inspiration for these designs are from science, math, space, and fractal concepts. As I work with these designs I wonder about these intricate patterns and I hope the same inspiration is passed down to the eventual wearers of my clothing line! In the mean time, I thought to share these thoughts with my readers too.
The fractal images:
- Top left: microscopic snowflake
- Middle left: River systems from space
- Bottom left: leaves
- Middle Top: lightening
- Middle bottom: Coastline
- Top right: zebra stripes
- Middle right: Orion galaxy
- Bottom right: Algerian sand dunes as seen from space