RIP Benoit Mandelbrot, Fractal Innovator

Benoit Mandelbrot, the creator of fractal geometry died at the age of 85 this week. Fractals are a visual representation of an equation that is self-similar and based on recursion, and just so happen to mimic an incredible array of natural processes and formations, from mountain ranges to coral reefs, and interestingly, as the above video explains, explains not only the way branches of a tree are differentiated but how trees in a forest differentiate themselves. Pretty hot.

Mandelbrot Set featuring the song “Mandelbrot Set” by Jonathan Coulton

Here is a zoomed Mandelbrot fractal set to a song aptly entitled “Mandelbrot Set.”

Mr. Mandelbrot also did a lovely TED talk, which you can watch above.

paper toy madelbot fractalspin

For the geek boutique I run, Fractalspin (namesake obvious), I designed a paper toy called “Mandelbot” named after the man himself. You can download the PDF, print it out and assemble it for free.

RIP Benoit, and thank you for adding to our collective understanding.

Barbie says, “Math is hard”

teentalkbarbie.jpgIn high school there were just as many girls as guys in my AP Biology and Organic Chemistry classes, but fewer hanging out and talking BBS smack at Computer Club. In college the Intro to Computer Science class was pretty balanced, but CS II showed the first signs of a noticeable gender imbalance, skewing toward guys having the majority. I’d go home after classes and log a few hours on Quake, and noticed that my opponents tended to be all men. Usenet newsgroups that focused on cryptography, open source computing, and similar subjects also seemed to have a higher number of male names than female. These days, I show up at electronic music workshops or log into similar forums and am usually one of two or three other girls there. And there’s only a handful of recognized women electronic musicians in the field as opposed to the countless men. Seeing as we’re supposed to be a pretty egalitarian culture, that’s weird, right?

Girls and young women are less likely than boys and young men to agree with the statements “I like mathematics” and “I like science,” in a national survey:

  • 40% of girls and 31% of boys said that math is their least favorite subject
  • 21% of girls and 17% of boys said that science is their least favorite subject *

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