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Here’s a set of three lines:

Three lines


Now try replacing each line with a half-sized copy of the original three lines:

Three half-sized copies of the original three lines


What shape results if you keep on doing that — replacing each line with three half-sized new lines — over and over again? I’m not sure that any human is yet capable of visualizing it, but you can see the shape being created below:

Morphogenesis #3


Morphogenesis #4


Morphogenesis #5


Morphogenesis #6


Morphogenesis #7


Morphogenesis #8


Morphogenesis #9


Morphogenesis #10


Morphogenesis #11 — the Hourglass Fractal


Morphogenesis of the Hourglass Fractal (animated)


The shape that results is what I call the hourglass fractal. Here’s a second and similar method of creating it:

Hourglass fractal, method #2 stage #1


Hourglass fractal #2


Hourglass fractal #3


Hourglass fractal #4


Hourglass fractal #5


Hourglass fractal #6


Hourglass fractal #7


Hourglass fractal #8


Hourglass fractal #9


Hourglass fractal #10


Hourglass fractal #11


Hourglass fractal (animated)


And below are both methods in one animated gif, where you can see how method #1 produces an hourglass fractal twice as large as the hourglass fractal produced by method #2:

Two routes to the hourglass fractal (animated)


Elsewhere other-engageable:

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Hour Re-Re-Powered

Neuclid on the Block

How many blows does it take to demolish a wall with a hammer? It depends on the wall and the hammer, of course. If the wall is reality and the hammer is mathematics, you can do it in three blows, like this:

α’. Σημεῖόν ἐστιν, οὗ μέρος οὐθέν.
β’. Γραμμὴ δὲ μῆκος ἀπλατές.
γ’. Γραμμῆς δὲ πέρατα σημεῖα.

1. A point is that of which there is no part.
2. A line is a length without breadth.
3. The extremities of a line are points.

That is the astonishing, world-shattering opening in one of the strangest – and sanest – books ever written. It’s twenty-three centuries old, was written by an Alexandrian mathematician called Euclid (fl. 300 B.C.), and has been pored over by everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Bertrand Russell by way of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Its title is highly appropriate: Στοιχεῖα, or Elements. Physical reality is composed of chemical elements; mathematical reality is composed of logical elements. The second reality is much bigger – infinitely bigger, in fact. In his Elements, Euclid slipped the bonds of time, space and matter by demolishing the walls of reality with a mathematical hammer and escaping into a world of pure abstraction.

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