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February 18th, 2011

Do-It-Yourself Fractals Coming to the Web

By Kent Harrington | Comments (4)
Who says mathematics can't be beautiful? (Well, probably very few engineers, but anyway...) Tom Beddard, a web developer and designer with a PhD in laser physics, has combined his math and science expertise with his visual abilities in a new Web-based program that creates gorgeous 3D fractal worlds. Take a look at the sample video in the panel to the right. Speaking about his work in a recent interview in Fast Company's Co.Design Beddard says:
"I'm interested in how equations and formulas can be used to create interesting, unpredictable imagery," says Beddard. Fractals are the quintessential example of this kind of generative art, but exploring their contours can be difficult on a desktop computer because of all the heavy math required to render them visually. "Traditionally with fractal generation, you have to wait seconds or minutes for the image to appear," Beddard says. But the program he wrote to create the video above runs in nearly real-time—which means that Beddard can simply plug in an equation and start playing with its visual properties as easily as fiddling with a Rubik's Cube.
According to the same article, Beddard is completing an open-source Web application called ShaderLab, which is supposed to be out in a few weeks. The application will allow anyone to create 3D fractal forms using their browser, so keep an eye out for this incredible tool. See more of Tom Beddard's creations in his online gallery. For anyone who missed it, Benoît Mandelbrot, the mathematician who developed fractal geometry and applied it to various fields, passed away in late 2010. Read more about his fascinating career here. You can also hear him speak about fractals in the video below:

What other areas of math or science are directly responsible for such artistic creations?

Photo: Tom Beddard via Fast Company's Co.Design
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4 Responses to “Do-It-Yourself Fractals Coming to the Web”

  1. Roxy Schneider says:

    Princeton University has a really cool exhibit that they run annually in their engineering center called "The Art of Science". It's all images that have in some way been generated through science and engineering. I REALLY recommend checking it out.
    http://www.princeton.edu/artofscience/gallery2010...

  2. Carol.Schmidt says:

    I remember creating fractals in Computer Science way back in High School. These look way cooler though.

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