*Eye-Catching Math** is a series about beautiful mathematical images. Read more about it here.*

A fractal is a pattern that contains smaller and smaller versions of itself. In a fractal, those smaller versions contain even smaller versions of the whole pattern. Theoretically, these smaller versions continue on forever, although when we draw them, we have to stop at some point.

Here is an example of a fractal, called a Koch curve. To make this, draw a particular pointy line, _/_. Then, replace each edge of _/_ with a mini version of _/_. Do that again with each of the new, smaller edges. And so on.

When we zoom in on this fractal, we see that it is made up of smaller and smaller versions of itself.

Fractals are a wonderful source of artistic inspiration.

Fractals are the key idea behind self-similar pictures like this one.

Fractal patterns are found in nature surprisingly often.

In trees and clouds:

Dandelions:

Peacock tails:

Even broccoli:

Questions about fractals? Feel free to ask in the comments.

More* Eye-Catching Math* posts coming soon! They will be interspersed with regular blog content.

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Love this!! Thanks Tamar!

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Fractals are really cool. I especially like the zoomed in picture of broccoli. I’m going to think about that the next time I eat it.

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They also use fractals in movie editing. One of the possible effects in movie editing in which fractals make life easier is the bursting volcano. Fractals make the process so realistic!

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