Fractals and the Meaning of Life

Date:  Sunday, November 14, 2010
Speaker:  Bill Bynum

 Bill Bynum is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Westminster College where he has taught for over 20 years. He received his MA in mathematics from the University of Colorado with a focus on set theory and logic. He has taught a broad range of courses including such unique offerings as Probability and Gambling and a course in fractals where his students developed a workshop to present to local high school students. He has also developed a tutoring program bringing Westminster calculus students to East High. He is married to Clarence Bynum and has three sons – Phinehas, Daniel, and Lucius.

Fractals are stunningly beautiful geometric objects simply created by the repetition of a basic operation and have properties including self-similarity and infinite complexity. Fractal-like structures appear around us in clouds, mountains, and plants. Computer generated fractals mesmerize with their intricate patterns. Fractals have been used to describe such complex systems as the weather and stock market fluctuations. In this presentation, we learn how fractals are created and how fractals help explain our world by exploring such famous examples as the Sierpinski Triangle, Koch Curve, and the Mandelbrot Set.”

Recommended reading and resources:
The “Fractals” entry in Wikipedia is a great place to start online:
James Gleick. Chaos: Making a New Science. New York: Viking. 1987. ISBN 0670811785.
Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon and Ralph Edney. Introducing Fractal Geometry. Totem Books. ISBN 1840467134.
Benoit Mandelbrot. The Fractal Geometry of Nature. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company. 1983. ISBN 0717611869