Tuesday, November 11, 2008

As Is the Universe, So Is the Atom

This is an adage from a Zen sayings mini book I've had in my collection for the last 15 years.

I'm reminded of this quote because I just a saw a great TV show on fractal geometry a few weeks back. It was part of the PBS NOVA series and went into how fractals pervade our lives from helping analyze forests to the use of fractal geometry in the creation of miniature antennas in wireless phones that we use today.

Maldelbrot sets explore fractal geometry and are quite beautiful. For me, one of the beauties of using maldelbrot programs is how you can take the whole mandelbrot design, zoom in and see that design repeated as you zoom in further and further into the set.

I feel this translates well into what we see with the universe that surrounds us. Maybe it's too simplistic but the structure of the infinitely small subatomic particles seems to be repeated in the layout of our own Milky Way to the countless galaxies in our universe.

Take for example the atom with the electrons flying around it nucleus. Can't exploded analogies be made of our solar system with the Sun and our 8 planets that revolve it or even to the stars that revolve around the center of our galaxy?

For me that's the amazing beauty of the space that surrounds us and lives inside of us. It may be a trite observation but for me that's what's so incredible.

A subset of the whole domain - however big it is - gives us clues to the whole domain's composition. There's something inspiring and incredible to this infinite fractal geometry.