October 17, 2010

A little homage to Benoît Mandelbrot

Benoît Mandelbrot was one of the great geniuses of our era, comparable to Einstein, Hawkins, Maldacena and very few others. He died on October 14 at the venerable age of 85.

Of Jewish ethnicity, born in Poland, raised in France, living in France, Switzerland and the USA, he stands as a universal genius by all standards.

He like no other helped us to discover the beauty and importance of Chaos mathematics and its physical implications. He is best known for defining the concept of fractals, a pillar of Chaos theory.

His best known quote, which is a beautiful synthesis of poetry and deep intellectual provocation is this one:

Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.

A quote I just love.

In spite of his unique greatness he never received the Nobel Prize, what says nothing good about this media-hyped Scandinavian honor. He did receive many other prizes and honors in his life however, all well deserved.

To the left, photo of the deceased genius (2007, from Wikipedia) and some magnifications of the famous Mandelbrot set, arbitrarily chosen for their beauty (M=10⁻¹, M=10⁶ and M=10⁹). All from The Chaos Hypertextbook.

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