Get Your Prox Off #3

I’ve looked at lot at the fractals created when you randomly (or quasi-randomly) choose a vertex of a square, then jump half of the distance towards it. You can ban jumps towards the same vertex twice in a row, or jumps towards the vertex clockwise or anticlockwise from the vertex you’ve just chosen, and so on.

But you don’t have to choose vertices directly: you can also choose them by distance or proximity (see “Get Your Prox Off” for an earlier look at fractals-by-distance). For example, this fractal appears when you can jump half-way towards the nearest vertex, the second-nearest vertex, and the third-nearest vertex (i.e., you can’t jump towards the four-nearest or most distant vertex):

vertices = 4, distance = (1,2,3), jump = 1/2


It’s actually the same fractal as you get when you choose vertices directly and ban jumps towards the vertex diagonally opposite from the one you’ve just chosen. But this fractal-by-distance isn’t easy to match with a fractal-by-vertex:

v = 4, d = (1,2,4), j = 1/2


Nor is this one:

v = 4, d = (1,3,4)


This one, however, is the same as the fractal-by-vertex created by banning a jump towards the same vertex twice in a row:

v = 4, d = (2,3,4)


The point can jump towards second-nearest, third-nearest and fourth-nearest vertices, but not towards the nearest. And the nearest vertex will be the one chosen previously.

Now let’s try squares with an additional point-for-jumping-towards on each side (the points are numbered 1 to 8, with points 1, 3, 5, 7 being the true vertices):

v = 4 + s1 point on each side, d = (1,2,3)


v = 4 + s1, d = (1,2,5)


v = 4 + s1, d = (1,2,7)


v = 4 + s1, d = (1,3,8)


v = 4 + s1, d = (1,4,6)


v = 4 + s1, d = (1,7,8)


v = 4 + s1, d = (2,3,8)


v = 4 + s1, d = (2,4,8)


And here are squares where the jump is 2/3, not 1/2, and you can choose only the nearest or third-nearest jump-point:

v = 4, d = (1,3), j = 2/3


v = 4 + s1, d = (1,3), j = 2/3


Now here are some pentagonal fractals-by-distance:

v = 5, d = (1,2,5), j = 1/2


v = 5 + s1, d = (1,2,7)


v = 5 + s1, d = (1,2,8)


v = 5 + s1, d = (1,2,9)


v = 5 + s1, d = (1,9,10)


v = 5 + s1, d = (1,10), j = 2/3


v = 5 + s1, d = (various), j = 2/3 (animated)


And now some hexagonal fractals-by-distance:

v = 6, d = (1,2,4), j = 1/2


v = 6, d = (1,3,5)


v = 6, d = (1,3,6)


v = 6, d = (1,2,3,4)


v = 6 + central point, d = (1,2,3,4)


v = 6, d = (1,2,3,6)


v = 6, d = (1,2,4,6)


v = 6, d = (1,3,4,5)


v = 6, d = (1,3,4,6)


v = 6, d = (1,4,5,6)


Elsewhere other-accessible:

Get Your Prox Off — an earlier look at fractals-by-distance
Get Your Prox Off # 2 — and another

B a Pal

As a keyly committed core component of the counter-cultural community (I wish!), I like to post especially edgy and esoteric material to Overlord In Terms of Core Issues Around Maximal Engagement with Key Notions of the Über-Feral on the 23rd of each month. And today I may be posting the especially edgiest and esoterickest material ever dot dot dot

After all, this entry at the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences is about numbers that are palindromes in two particularly pertinent bases:

A060792 Numbers that are palindromic in bases 2 and 3.

0, 1, 6643, 1422773, 5415589, 90396755477, 381920985378904469, 1922624336133018996235, 2004595370006815987563563, 8022581057533823761829436662099, 392629621582222667733213907054116073, 32456836304775204439912231201966254787, 428027336071597254024922793107218595973 (A060792 at OEIS, with more entries)


And here are the underlying palindromes:

0: 0 ↔ 0
1: 1 ↔ 1
6643: 1100111110011 ↔ 100010001
1422773: 101011011010110110101 ↔ 2200021200022
5415589: 10100101010001010100101 ↔ 101012010210101
90396755477: 1010100001100000100010000011000010101 ↔ 22122022220102222022122
381920985378904469: 10101001100110110110001110011011001110001101101100110010101 ↔ 2112200222001222121212221002220022112
1922624336133018996235: 11010000011100111000101110001110011011001110001110100011100111000001011 ↔
122120102102011212112010211212110201201021221
2004595370006815987563563: 110101000011111010101010100101111011110111011110111101001010101010111110000101011 ↔ 221010112100202002120002212200021200202001211010122
8022581057533823761829436662099: 1100101010000100101101110000011011011111111011000011100001101111111101101100000111011010010000101010011 ↔ 21000020210011222122220212010000100001021202222122211001202000012
392629621582222667733213907054116073: 10010111001111000100010100010100000011011011000101011011100000111011010100011011011000000101000101000100011110011101001 ↔ 122102120011102000101101000002010021111120010200000101101000201110021201221
32456836304775204439912231201966254787: 11000011010101111010110010100010010011011010101001101000001000100010000010110010101011011001001000101001101011110101011000011 ↔ 1222100201002211120110022121002012121101011212102001212200110211122001020012221
428027336071597254024922793107218595973: 101000010000000110001000011111100101011110011100001110100011100010001110001011100001110011110101001111110000100011000000010000101 ↔ 222001200110022102121001000200200202022111220202002002000100121201220011002100222

Nail Supremacy

Ὁ γαρ ἡδονής και ἀλγηδόνος ἧλος, ὃς πρὸς το σώμα τήν ψυχην προσηλοῖ, μέγιστον κακὸν ἔχειν ἔοικε, τὸ τα αἰσθητά ποιεῖν ἐναργέστερα τῶν νοητῶν, καὶ καταβιάζεσθαι καὶ πάθει μᾶλλον ἢ λόγῳ κρίνειν τήν διάνοιαν.

• ΠΡΟΒΛΗΜΑ Β’. Πώς Πλάτων ἔλεγε τον θεὸν άεὶ γεωμετρεῖν.


Nam voluptatis et doloris ille clavus, quo animus corpori affigitur, id videtur maximum habere malum, quod sensilia facit intelligibilibus evidentiora, vimque facit intellectui, ut affectionem magis quam rationem in judicando sequatur.

• QUÆSTIO II: Qua ratione Plato dixerit, Deum semper geometriam tractare.


For the nail of pain and pleasure, which fastens the soul to the body, seems to do us the greatest mischief, by making sensible things more powerful over us than intelligible, and by forcing the understanding to determine them rather by passion than by reason.

• Plutarch’s Symposiacs, QUESTION II: What is Plato’s Meaning, When He Says that God Always Plays the Geometer?

Fractal + Star = Fractar

Here’s a three-armed star made with three lines radiating at intervals of 120°:

Triangular fractal stage #1


At the end of each of the three lines, add three more lines at half the length:

Triangular fractal #2


And continue like this:

Triangular fractal #3


Triangular fractal #4


Triangular fractal #5


Triangular fractal #6


Triangular fractal #7


Triangular fractal #8


Triangular fractal #9


Triangular fractal #10


Triangular fractal (animated)


Because this fractal is created from a series of star, you could call it a fractar. Here’s a black-and-white version:

Triangular fractar (black-and-white)


Triangular fractar (black-and-white) (animated)
(Open in a new window for larger version if the image seems distorted)


A four-armed star doesn’t yield an easily recognizable fractal in a similar way, so let’s try a five-armed star:

Pentagonal fractar stage #1


Pentagonal fractar #2


Pentagonal fractar #3


Pentagonal fractar #4


Pentagonal fractar #5


Pentagonal fractar #6


Pentagonal fractar #7


Pentagonal fractar (animated)


Pentagonal fractar (black-and-white)


Pentagonal fractar (bw) (animated)


And here’s a six-armed star:

Hexagonal fractar stage #1


Hexagonal fractar #2


Hexagonal fractar #3


Hexagonal fractar #4


Hexagonal fractar #5


Hexagonal fractar #6


Hexagonal fractar (animated)


Hexagonal fractar (black-and-white)


Hexagonal fractar (bw) (animated)


And here’s what happens to the triangular fractar when the new lines are rotated by 60°:

Triangular fractar (60° rotation) #1


Triangular fractar (60°) #2


Triangular fractar (60°) #3


Triangular fractar (60°) #4


Triangular fractar (60°) #5


Triangular fractar (60°) #6


Triangular fractar (60°) #7


Triangular fractar (60°) #8


Triangular fractar (60°) #9


Triangular fractar (60°) (animated)


Triangular fractar (60°) (black-and-white)


Triangular fractar (60°) (bw) (animated)


Triangular fractar (60°) (no lines) (black-and-white)


A four-armed star yields a recognizable fractal when the rotation is 45°:

Square fractar (45°) #1


Square fractar (45°) #2


Square fractar (45°) #3


Square fractar (45°) #4


Square fractar (45°) #5


Square fractar (45°) #6


Square fractar (45°) #7


Square fractar (45°) #8


Square fractar (45°) (animated)


Square fractar (45°) (black-and-white)


Square fractar (45°) (bw) (animated)


Without the lines, the final fractar looks like the plan of a castle:

Square fractar (45°) (bw) (no lines)


And here’s a five-armed star with new lines rotated at 36°:

Pentagonal fractar (36°) #1


Pentagonal fractar (36°) #2


Pentagonal fractar (36°) #3


Pentagonal fractar (36°) #4


Pentagonal fractar (36°) #5


Pentagonal fractar (36°) #6


Pentagonal fractar (36°) #7


Pentagonal fractar (36°) (animated)


Again, the final fractar without lines looks like the plan of a castle:

Pentagonal fractar (36°) (no lines) (black-and-white)


Finally, here’s a six-armed star with new lines rotated at 30°:

Hexagonal fractar (30°) #1


Hexagonal fractar (30°) #2


Hexagonal fractar (30°) #3


Hexagonal fractar (30°) #4


Hexagonal fractar (30°) #5


Hexagonal fractar (30°) #6


Hexagonal fractar (30°) (animated)


And the hexagonal castle plan:

Hexagonal fractar (30°) (black-and-white) (no lines)


Performativizing the Polygonic #3

Pre-previously in my passionate portrayal of polygonic performativity, I showed how a single point jumping randomly (or quasi-randomly) towards the vertices of a polygon can create elaborate fractals. For example, if the point jumps 1/φth (= 0.6180339887…) of the way towards the vertices of a pentagon, it creates this fractal:

Point jumping 1/φth of the way to a randomly (or quasi-randomly) chosen vertex of a pentagon


But as you might expect, there are different routes to the same fractal. Suppose you take a pentagon and select a single vertex. Now, measure the distance to each vertex, v(1,i=1..5), of the original pentagon (including the selected vertex) and reduce it by 1/φ to find the position of a new vertex, v(2,i=1..5). If you do this for each vertex of the original pentagon, then to each vertex of the new pentagons, and so on, in the end you create the same fractal as the jumping point does:

Shrink pentagons by 1/φ, stage #1


Stage #2


Stage #3


Stage #4


Stage #5


Stage #6


Shrink by 1/φ (animated) (click for larger if blurred)


And here is the route to a centre-filled variant of the fractal:

Central pentagon, stage #1


Stage #2


Stage #3


Stage #4


Stage #5


Stage #6


Central pentagon (animated) (click for larger if blurred)


Using this shrink-the-polygon method, you can reach the same fractals by a third route. This time, use vertex v(1,i) of the original polygon as the centre of the new polygon with its vertices v(2,i=1..5). Creation of the fractal looks like this:

Pentagons over vertices, shrink by 1/φ, stage #1 (no pentagons over vertices)


Stage #2


Stage #3


Stage #4


Stage #4


Stage #5


Stage #7


Pentagons over vertices (animated) (click for larger if blurred)


And here is a third way of creating the centre-filled pentagonal fractal:

Pentagons over vertices and central pentagon, stage #1


Stage #2


Stage #3


Stage #4


Stage #5


Stage #6


Stage #7


Pentagons over vertices with central pentagon (animated) (click for larger if blurred)


And here is a fractal created when there are three pentagons to a side and the pentagons are shrunk by 1/φ^2 = 0.3819660112…:

Pentagon at vertex + pentagon at mid-point of side, shrink by 1/φ^2


Final stage


Pentagon at vertex + pentagon at mid-point of side (animated) (click for larger if blurred)


Pentagon at vertex + pentagon at mid-point of side + central pentagon, shrink by 1/φ^2 and c. 0.5, stage #1


Stage #2


Stage #3


Stage #4


Stage #5


Pentagon at vertex + mid-point + center (animated) (click for larger if blurred)


Previously pre-posted:

Performativizing the Polygonic #2
Performativizing the Polygonic #1

Performativizing the Polygonic #2

Suppose a café offers you free drinks for three days. You can have tea or coffee in any order and any number of times. If you want tea every day of the three, you can have it. So here’s a question: how many ways can you choose from two kinds of drink in three days? One simple way is to number each drink, tea = 1, coffee = 2, then count off the choices like this:


1: 111
2: 112
3: 121
4: 122
5: 211
6: 212
7: 221
8: 222

Choice #1 is 111, which means tea every day. Choice #6 is 212, which means coffee on day 1, tea on day 2 and coffee on day 3. Now look at the counting again and the way the numbers change: 111, 112, 121, 122, 211… It’s really base 2 using 1 and 2 rather than 0 and 1. That’s why there are 8 ways to choose two drinks over three days: 8 = 2^3. Next, note that you use the same number of 1s to count the choices as the number of 2s. There are twelve 1s and twelve 2s, because each number has a mirror: 111 has 222, 112 has 221, 121 has 212, and so on.

Now try the number of ways to choose from three kinds of drink (tea, coffee, orange juice) over two days:


11, 12, 13, 21, 22, 23, 31, 32, 33 (c=9)

There are 9 ways to choose, because 9 = 3^2. And each digit, 1, 2, 3, is used exactly six times when you write the choices. Now try the number of ways to choose from three kinds of drink over three days:


111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123, 131, 132, 133, 211, 212, 213, 221, 222, 223, 231, 232, 233, 311, 312, 313, 321, 322, 323, 331, 332, 333 (c=27)

There are 27 ways and (by coincidence) each digit is used 27 times to write the choices. Now try three drinks over four days:


1111, 1112, 1113, 1121, 1122, 1123, 1131, 1132, 1133, 1211, 1212, 1213, 1221, 1222, 1223, 1231, 1232, 1233, 1311, 1312, 1313, 1321, 1322, 1323, 1331, 1332, 1333, 2111, 2112, 2113, 2121, 2122, 2123, 2131, 2132, 2133, 2211, 2212, 2213, 2221, 2222, 2223, 2231, 2232, 2233, 2311, 2312, 2313, 2321, 2322, 2323, 2331, 2332, 2333, 3111, 3112, 3113, 3121, 3122, 3123, 3131, 3132, 3133, 3211, 3212, 3213, 3221, 3222, 3223, 3231, 3232, 3233, 3311, 3312, 3313, 3321, 3322, 3323, 3331, 3332, 3333 (c=81)

There are 81 ways to choose and each digit is used 108 times. But the numbers don’t have represent choices of drink in a café. How many ways can a point inside an equilateral triangle jump four times half-way towards the vertices of the triangle? It’s the same as the way to choose from three drinks over four days. And because the point jumps toward each vertex in a symmetrical way the same number of times, you get a nice even pattern, like this:

vertices = 3, jump = 1/2


Every time the point jumps half-way towards a particular vertex, its position is marked in a unique colour. The fractal, also known as a Sierpiński triangle, actually represents all possible choices for an indefinite number of jumps. Here’s the same rule applied to a square. There are four vertices, so the point is tracing all possible ways to choose four vertices for an indefinite number of jumps:

v = 4, jump = 1/2


As you can see, it’s not an obvious fractal. But what if the point jumps two-thirds of the way to its target vertex and an extra target is added at the centre of the square? This attractive fractal appears:

v = 4 + central target, jump = 2/3


If the central target is removed and an extra target is added on each side, this fractal appears:

v = 4 + 4 midpoints, jump = 2/3


That fractal is known as a Sierpiński carpet. Now up to the pentagon. This fractal of endlessly nested contingent pentagons is created by a point jumping 1/φ = 0·6180339887… of the distance towards the five vertices:

v = 5, jump = 1/φ


With a central target in the pentagon, this fractal appears:

v = 5 + central, jump = 1/φ


The central red pattern fits exactly inside the five that surround it:

v = 5 + central, jump = 1/φ (closeup)


v = 5 + c, jump = 1/φ (animated)


For a fractal of endlessly nested contingent hexagons, the jump is 2/3:

v = 6, jump = 2/3


With a central target, you get a filled variation of the hexagonal fractal:

v = 6 + c, jump = 2/3


And for a fractal of endlessly nested contingent octagons, the jump is 1/√2 = 0·7071067811… = √½:

v = 8, jump = 1/√2


Previously pre-posted:

Performativizing the Polygonic

Binary Babushkas

What’s the connection between grandmothers and this set of numbers?


1, 2, 6, 12, 44, 92, 184, 1208, 1256, 4792, 9912, 19832, 39664, 563952, 576464, 4496112, 4499184, 17996528, 17997488, 143972080, 145057520, 145070832, 294967024, 589944560...

To take the first step towards the answer, you need to put the numbers into binary:


1, 10, 110, 1100, 101100, 1011100, 10111000, 10010111000, 10011101000, 1001010111000, 10011010111000, 100110101111000, 1001101011110000, 10001001101011110000, 10001100101111010000, 10001001001101011110000, 10001001010011011110000, 1000100101001101011110000, 1000100101001111010110000, 1000100101001101011011110000, 1000101001010110011011110000, 1000101001011001101011110000, 10001100101001101011011110000, 100011001010011101011011110000...

The second step is compare those binary numbers with these binary numbers, which represent 1 to 30:


1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111, 1000, 1001, 1010, 1011, 1100, 1101, 1110, 1111, 10000, 10001, 10010, 10011, 10100, 10101, 10110, 10111, 11000, 11001, 11010, 11011, 11100, 11101, 11110...

To see what’s going on, take the first five numbers from each set:


• 1, 10, 110, 1100, 101100...
• 1, 10, 11, 100, 101...

What’s going on? If you look, you can see the n-th binary number of set 1 contains the digits of all binary numbers <= n in set 2. For example, 101100 is the 5th binary number in set 1, so it contains the digits of the binary numbers 1 to 5:


101100 ← 1
101100 ← 10
101100 ← 11
101100 ← 100
101100 ← 101

Now try 1256 = 10,011,101,000, the ninth number in set 1. It contains all the binary numbers from 1 to 1001:


10011101000 ← 1 (n=1)
10011101000 ← 10 (n=2)
10011101000 ← 11 (n=3)
10011101000 ← 100 (n=4)
10011101000 ← 101 (n=5)
10011101000 ← 110 (n=6)
10011101000 ← 111 (n=7)
10011101000 ← 1000 (n=8)
10011101000 ← 1001 (n=9)

But where do grandmothers come in? They come in via this famous toy:

Nested doll or Russian doll

It’s called a Russian doll and the way all the smaller dolls pack inside the largest doll reminds me of the way all the smaller numbers 1 to 1010 pack into 1001010111000. But in the Russian language, as you might expect, Russian dolls aren’t called Russian dolls. Instead, they’re called matryoshki (матрёшки, singular матрёшка), meaning “little matrons”. However, there’s a mistaken idea in English that in Russian they’re called babushka dolls, from Russian бабушка, babuška, meaning “grandmother”. And that’s what I thought, until I did a little research.

But the mistake is there, so I’ll call these babushka numbers or grandmother numbers:


1, 2, 6, 12, 44, 92, 184, 1208, 1256, 4792, 9912, 19832, 39664, 563952, 576464, 4496112, 4499184, 17996528, 17997488, 143972080, 145057520, 145070832, 294967024, 589944560...

They’re sequence A261467 at the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences. They go on for ever, but the biggest known so far is 589,944,560 = 100,011,001,010,011,101,011,011,110,000 in binary. And here is that binary babushka with its binary babies:


100011001010011101011011110000 ← 1 (n=1)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 10 (n=2)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 11 (n=3)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 100 (n=4)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 101 (n=5)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 110 (n=6)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 111 (n=7)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 1000 (n=8)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 1001 (n=9)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 1010 (n=10)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 1011 (n=11)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 1100 (n=12)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 1101 (n=13)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 1110 (n=14)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 1111 (n=15)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 10000 (n=16)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 10001 (n=17)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 10010 (n=18)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 10011 (n=19)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 10100 (n=20)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 10101 (n=21)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 10110 (n=22)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 10111 (n=23)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 11000 (n=24)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 11001 (n=25)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 11010 (n=26)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 11011 (n=27)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 11100 (n=28)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 11101 (n=29)
100011001010011101011011110000 ← 11110 (n=30)

Babushka numbers exist in higher bases, of course. Here are the first thirteen in base 3 or ternary:


1 contains 1 (c=1) (n=1)
12 contains 1, 2 (c=2) (n=5)
102 contains 1, 2, 10 (c=3) (n=11)
1102 contains 1, 2, 10, 11 (c=4) (n=38)
10112 contains 1, 2, 10, 11, 12 (c=5) (n=95)
101120 contains 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20 (c=6) (n=285)
1021120 contains 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21 (c=7) (n=933)
10211220 contains 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22 (c=8) (n=2805)
100211220 contains 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, 100 (c=9) (n=7179)
10021011220 contains 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, 100, 101 (c=10) (n=64284)
1001010211220 contains 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, 100, 101, 102 (c=11) (n=553929)
1001011021220 contains 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, 100, 101, 102, 110 (c=12) (n=554253)
10010111021220 contains 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, 100, 101, 102, 110, 111 (c=13) (n=1663062)

Look at 1,001,010,211,220 (n=553929) and 1,001,011,021,220 (n=554253). They have the same number of digits, but the babushka 1,001,011,021,220 manages to pack in one more baby:


1001010211220 contains 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, 100, 101, 102 (c=11) (n=553929)
1001011021220 contains 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, 100, 101, 102, 110 (c=12) (n=554253)

That happens in binary too:


10010111000 contains 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111, 1000, 1001 (c=9) (n=1208)
10011101000 contains 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111, 1000, 1001, 1010 (c=10) (n=1256)

What happens in higher bases? Watch this space.

Back to Drac’

draconic, adj. /drəˈkɒnɪk/ pertaining to, or of the nature of, a dragon. [Latin draco, -ōnem, < Greek δράκων dragon] — The Oxford English Dictionary

In Curvous Energy, I looked at the strange, beautiful and complex fractal known as the dragon curve and showed how it can be created from a staid and sedentary square:

A dragon curve


Here are the stages whereby the dragon curve is created from a square. Note how each square at one stage generates a pair of further squares at the next stage:

Dragon curve from squares #1


Dragon curve from squares #2


Dragon curve from squares #3


Dragon curve from squares #4


Dragon curve from squares #5


Dragon curve from squares #6


Dragon curve from squares #7


Dragon curve from squares #8


Dragon curve from squares #9


Dragon curve from squares #10


Dragon curve from squares #11


Dragon curve from squares #12


Dragon curve from squares #13


Dragon curve from squares #14


Dragon curve from squares (animated)


The construction is very easy and there’s no tricky trigonometry, because you can use the vertices and sides of each old square to generate the vertices of the two new squares. But what happens if you use lines rather than squares to generate the dragon curve? You’ll discover that less is more:

Dragon curve from lines #1


Dragon curve from lines #2


Dragon curve from lines #3


Dragon curve from lines #4


Dragon curve from lines #5


Each line at one stage generates a pair of further lines at the next stage, but there’s no simple way to use the original line to generate the new ones. You have to use trigonometry and set the new lines at 45° to the old one. You also have to shrink the new lines by a fixed amount, 1/√2 = 0·70710678118654752… Here are further stages:

Dragon curve from lines #6


Dragon curve from lines #7


Dragon curve from lines #8


Dragon curve from lines #9


Dragon curve from lines #10


Dragon curve from lines #11


Dragon curve from lines #12


Dragon curve from lines #13


Dragon curve from lines #14


Dragon curve from lines (animated)


But once you have a program that can adjust the new lines, you can experiment with new angles. Here’s a dragon curve in which one new line is at an angle of 10°, while the other remains at 45° (after which the full shape is rotated by 180° because it looks better that way):

Dragon curve 10° and 45°


Dragon curve 10° and 45° (animated)


Dragon curve 10° and 45° (coloured)


Here are more examples of dragon curves generated with one line at 45° and the other line at a different angle:

Dragon curve 65°


Dragon curve 65° (anim)


Dragon curve 65° (col)


Dragon curve 80°


Dragon curve 80° (anim)


Dragon curve 80° (col)


Dragon curve 135°


Dragon curve 135° (anim)


Dragon curve 250°


Dragon curve 250° (anim)


Dragon curve 250° (col)


Dragon curve 260°


Dragon curve 260° (anim)


Dragon curve 260° (col)


Dragon curve 340°


Dragon curve 340° (anim)


Dragon curve 340° (col)


Dragon curve 240° and 20°


Dragon curve 240° and 20° (anim)


Dragon curve 240° and 20° (col)


Dragon curve various angles (anim)


Previously pre-posted:

Curvous Energy — a first look at dragon curves

Rigging in the Trigging

Here’s a simple pattern of three triangles:

Three-Triangle Pattern


Now replace each triangle in the pattern with the same pattern at a smaller scale:

Replacing triangles


If you keep on doing this, you create what I’ll call a trigonal fractal (trigon is Greek for “triangle”):

Trigonal Fractal stage #3 (click for larger)


Trigonal Fractal stage #4


Trigonal Fractal stage #5


Trigonal Fractal #6


Trigonal Fractal #7


Trigonal Fractal #8


Trigonal Fractal (animated) (click for larger)


You can use the same pattern to create different fractals by rotating the replacement patterns in different ways. I call this “rigging the trigging” and here are some of the results:




You can also use a different seed-pattern to create the fractals:

Trigonal fractal (animated)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)



Trigonal fractal (anim)


Note: The title of this incendiary intervention is of course a paronomasia on the song “Frigging in the Rigging”, also known as “Good Ship Venus” and performed by the Sex Pistols on The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle (1979).

Curvous Energy

Here is a strange and beautiful fractal known as a dragon curve:

A dragon curve (note: this is a twin-dragon curve or Davis-Knuth dragon)


And here is the shape generally regarded as the dullest and most everyday of all:

A square


But squares are square, so let’s go back to dragon-curves. This particular kind of dragon-curve looks a lot like a Chinese dragon. You can see the same writhing energy and scaliness:

Chinese dragon


Dragon-curve for comparison


Dragon-curves also look like some species of soft coral:

Red soft-coral


In short, dragon-curves are organic and lively, quite unlike the rigid, lifeless solidity of a square. But there’s more to a dragon-curve than immediately meets the eye. Dragon-curves are rep-tiles, that is, you can tile one with smaller copies of itself:

Dragon-curve rep-tiled with two copies of itself


Dragon-curve rep-4


Dragon-curve rep-8


Dragon-curve rep-16


Dragon-curve rep-32


Dragon-curve self-tiling (animated)


From the rep-32 dragon-curve, you can see that a dragon-curve can be surrounded by six copies of itself. Here’s an animation of the process:

Dragon-curve surrounded (anim)


And because dragon-curves are rep-tiles, they will tile the plane:

Dragon-curve tiling #1


Dragon-curve tiling #2


But how do you make these strange and beautiful shapes, with their myriad curves and curlicules, their energy and liveliness? It’s actually very simple. You start with the shape generally regarded as the dullest and most everyday of all:

A square


Then you see how the shape can be replaced by five smaller copies of itself:

Square overlaid by five smaller squares


Square replaced by five smaller squares


Then you set about replacing it with two of those smaller copies:

Replacing squares Stage #0


Replacing squares Stage #1


Then you do it again to each of the copies:

Replacing squares Stage #2


And again:

Replacing squares #3


And again:

Replacing squares #4


And keep on doing it:

Replacing squares #5


Replacing squares #6


Replacing squares #7


Replacing squares #8


Replacing squares #9


Replacing squares #10


Replacing squares #11


Replacing squares #12


Replacing squares #13


Replacing squares #14


Replacing squares #15


And in the end you’ve got a dragon-curve:

Dragon-curve built from squares


Dragon-curve built from squares (animated)