If you’ve never heard of a fractal, then this is the book for you. Sarah Campbell begins by looking at simple shapes around us: cones, cylinders, spheres, rectangles. Then she moves on to things in nature that don’t have perfect shapes.
“Instead of being straight, smooth, and flat, many natural shapes are rough, bristly, and bumpy,” she writes. True enough when you’re looking at a head of broccoli, a fern, or even a tree.
Before 1975 no one really had a name for these shapes. Then, a mathematician named Mandelbrot noticed something interesting: these shapes had repeating patterns. For example,. A tree starts with a stem that divides into branches, which each divide into branches, until the very last and smallest split into twigs. He called these patterns “fractals”.
In her book, Campbell provides photos of different kinds of fractals. Then she provides a DYI “make your own fractal” activity and ends with a biographical sketch of Mandelbrot.
Head over to Archimedes Notebook for some beyond-the-book fractal activities.