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Earth’s Fractal Beauties

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The beauty of the natural world is not easily described—not by poets, and not by geometry. A circle, triangle, or square doesn’t do justice to the colorful crenulations of the eroded canyons of the Badlands, the frost on a windowpane, the roiling thunderheads in a stormy sky, the rocky coast of Scotland, and a luscious head of ripe cauliflower, or the bifurcating structure of the lungs and the nervous and circulatory systems. The complex and irregular forms of the natural world are fractals—complex shapes that exhibit a similar structure at a wide range of scales. Zoom in, zoom out, the pattern remains the same. The structure of every piece holds the key to the whole structure. The entire image is stored in each part of the image. Any object or form that is a similar shape at different scales is a fractal, described by a very simple equation iterated billions of times.

“The universe is full of fractals. Indeed, it may even be one,” writes Ian Steward in Colors of Infinity.

The class of objects the fractals describe include not only a myriad of shapes in the natural world, but also the World Wide Web, the stock market, and a familiar kidney-shaped textile pattern from India called paisley. Paisley made a grand debut in America in the ’60s, when it decorated John Lennon’s 1967 Summer of Love Rolls Royce. Now it adorns everything from carpets and wallpaper to neckties, gangsta bandanas, and T-shirts for yoga lovers, though its origin as an Indian/Persian motif remains obscure.

But perhaps the ancient seers intuitively understood that the paisley pattern displayed the underlying order in the cosmos, illustrating the Sanskrit adage, yatha brahmande, tatha pindande: as in the cosmos, so in the microcosm. So the next time you see frost on the windowpane, a mountain in profile, the bark on a tree, or a paisley print on a loved one’s scarf, think of it as the thumbprint of God—and a reminder of the intelligent, wondrous nature of the universe

adapted from Yoga International by, Sandra Anderson / co-author of Yoga: Mastering the Basics and has taught yoga and meditation for over 25 years.


Factals Everywhere, Burgundy Zen Alarm Clock with Wave Dial Face

Factals Everywhere, Burgundy Zen Alarm Clock with Wave Dial Face

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