Fantastic Fractals Math League Event

By Jamison Wagner, Staff Reporter
The student Math League will be holding a presentation about fractals on Friday July 12 at 6 p.m. on Main Campus in Smith Brasher room 106, Alex Cordova, physics major and Math League vice president, said.
The Fractal Event, which will be hosted by Tim Torres and Otto Mossberg, will cover what fractals are and where fractals can be found in nature. The event is open to anyone and will end at 9 p.m., Cordova said.
“Fractals are literally nature. Nature pretty much bases itself around the most efficient way of doing something, and if it works it repeats itself over and over again,” he said.
Fractals are a mathematical phenomenon where there is a simple rule and it gets applied over and over again forming a geometrical shape that has symmetry of scale, he said.
“This kind of phenomenon does not even have to happen with a math equation; it can simply come about from a general rule,” he said.
An example of this is the Koch Snowflake; where a person can divide a line segment into three segments of equal length, then draw a regular triangle that has the middle segment from the first step as its base and points outward, and then remove the line segment that is the base of the triangle from the second step, he said.
“This is neat since you just follow the algorithm and you get the snowflake. Just cut out the middle and keep following the rules and you get a fractal,” he said.
One of the uses for fractals is in the building of a cell phone antenna to have more surface area without changing its’ size, he said. This allows the antenna to absorb a broader range of frequencies for receiving cell phone signals, he said.
“With fractals you can get all telephone frequencies and only have that on one small antenna, and if we did not have this we would have to carry a different antenna for each different frequency,” he said.
One of the pioneers in the field of fractals was Benoit Mandelbrot, and one of his first papers was a study of how to measure cosines that explained that depending on the ruler one uses, whether it is a mile, half an inch or another length, one can get varying inaccuracies on how long that cosine may actually be, he said.
“There is a way to get a really precise measurement in units you can use based on his works,” he said.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Mandelbrot used the term fractal (derived from Latin fractus which means broken glass) to describe a pattern of roughness, and no matter how closely someone views the pattern the person will always see a equally jagged or rough edge to the object at all scales. This pattern, for example, can be found in a fern plant.
For more information on the Math League or to RSVP to Fractal Friday on July 12, email Alex Cordova at

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