Tag Archives: fractals

New Release: Fractals – 2017 Adult Coloring Calendar

frontcover

I know how it is. You get to the end of November and you realize you forgot Mandelbrot’s birthday (it was Sunday). Or your friends ask you to come over for Pi day and then laugh at you when you bring pie instead (which they eat without thanking you). Well don’t worry, I’m looking out for you.

Introducing Fractals – 2017 Adult Coloring Calendar.

Did you know that you can make up math holidays just by choosing the right numbers? I mean, tomorrow is Fibonacci day because it’s 11/23 (it’ll really be cool in 42 years when it’s 11/23/58). I even made up my own holiday on January 26th: Koch curve day (because the approximate fractal dimension of the Koch curve is 1.26. It’s also E. H. Moore’s birthday apparently).

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Feeling stressed? Why not color in some fractal bubbles or a cozy quilt? And take some time to marvel at the clean numbers and lines of the calendar template I created using a python script. There were definitely at least five tiny pixel adjustments to make sure the numbers lined up in diagonals just right.

Perfect for the math geek who also enjoys trivia and pretty colors. But even if your name isn’t Brian Buckley this calendar is a great for someone looking for something just a bit different in their date tracking this year. Available now on Amazon from the good people at Green Frog Publishing.

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What I never expected

I’ve been off WordPress for a while and so it’s been a while since I checked my stats, and I was surprised to learn that I had something like a 200% increase in traffic last week, and for the best reason.

My “Fractals You Can Draw” posts have always been the most popular ones on the site. In general I think the writing life is weird like that. You never know what 20 minute or hour long effort is going to be the one that really lasts. I’ve spent hundreds of hours writing this blog, but that week I spent getting my wife to draw fractals, building a Sierpinski triangle out of marshmellows and toothpicks, and frantically trying to update by C++ skills has been one of the more lasting efforts of the last five years for me.

But the best thing is every year around the spring and fall I get new referrals from schools. WordPress does a pretty good job of letting you know where traffic is coming from, and every year I find some new class, ranging from grade school to college that references one of my fractal posts. That’s really the reason I’m doing any of this. What I’ve learned since I started blogging and especially in the last year working on the “Fractals You Can Draw” book is that I really want to teach people. I like writing fiction, but I love writing about math.

Honestly I’m as shocked as the rest of you.

Right now I’m working on Chapter 5 of the new book (or trying to, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks). I’m learning about new ways to use the Fibonacci sequence to draw fractals, and I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned. I’m so excited about this stuff I even snuck in a half an hour to write on Monday night while I was waiting for my mom to finish her grocery shopping.

If you’ve found this blog through one of your math courses I’d love to hear from you. To all the teachers who included links to my posts in their courses, thank you. And thank you for teaching people about fractals. It’s one of the best ways to build a love of math.

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Filed under Writing, Writing Goals

Down from the mountain

I was annoyed with John Oliver in late August when he said he’d be taking a month off. Watching him on Monday after work has quickly become one of the ways I can handle all of the nonsense going on in the world. And here I’ve been gone for nearly two months. Hope you guys didn’t miss me too much.

Short version of what’s been going on is this:

  • I got a new job in mid-August. Closer to home, interesting work, nice environment. Overall a big improvement. Still with the same company, just changed divisions, so a nice mix of old and new. I am even dressing nicer on a day-to-day basis.
  • Time that I am not spending with my wife or my work has been spent largely on writing the new fractal book. I am excited to share this with you as soon as possible. I am even considering new platforms for fractal art (I might venture out of the safe pastures of Twitter/Facebook/Wordpress).
  • I am handling this election about as well as the rest of you.
Photo of author taken mid-September

Photo of author taken mid-September

It’s this last point I want to talk about just a bit. Over at Previously.tv they’ve been doing a marathon diary of The West Wing, watching the entire series prior to election day. If you want to feel depressed about the election, I couldn’t think of a better way to do it than to watch what a fantasy American democracy looks like. My instincts are to watch or read something that bears more of a resemblance to reality, or even something far worse, so I can comfort myself in the knowledge that at least things aren’t that bad.

And so I’ve found myself immersed once again in a contemporary of The West Wing: the cyberpunk, post-human, political drama, comic book series Transmetropolitan. “Transmet” follows outlaw journalist Spider Jerusalem as he takes on corruption wherever he sees it, and pursues truth in relentless and foul-mouthed fashion. Much of the series’ narrative takes place during the administrations of two Presidents: “The Beast” and “The Smiler.” Sound familiar?

Admittedly, Transmet is as much a fantasy as The West Wing. It assumes journalism and truth can bring down Presidents. This certainly has been true, but in the fractured cable TV and social media news landscape of today it’s hard to say. But like all great science-fiction the series still has a lot to tell us about the moment in which it was written (1997-2002) and the moment in which we now live.

So I’m running a mini-marathon of my own, from now until election day. Twice a week (hopefully), I’ll be posting my thoughts on a volume of Transmetropolitan, both its place in the overall arc of the story, and what it has to say about our present moment. Already in rereading the comic I’ve seen it touch on themes of police brutality, transhumanism, racial profiling, political scandal, right-wing extremism, rampant consumerism, historical preservation, child prostitution, poverty and more.

If you want to read along I’ll post Volume 1 “Back on the Street” on Thursday (I’m using the new printing numbering, so this covers issues 1-6). Fair warning, the content is rough both in terms of subject matter and especially in the early issues, vulgarity. Also, as a dog owner I want to state clearly I do not agree with Spider Jerusalem’s attitudes/actions toward dogs. But if you can get past the rough trappings, you’ll find a gripping narrative with plenty of twists and turns, and even some genuine human feeling.

In the meantime I will try to write something that isn’t about comic books or fractals, but I’m not promising anything.

 

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Filed under Recurring

Dispatches from writing a new fractal book

I spent a lot of the weekend making figures. If a picture is worth 1000 words, then my book would be 500,000 words long. There are a lot of things to consider when making an image for a book:

  • Since this will be a B&W book, what’s the best gray-scale values to look two-tone without looking faded?
  • What resolution will work best for the print size, but still work for an eBook (so I don’t have to make two of every picture, hopefully)?
  • How does the image flow with the text? Does it make it hard to read, or does it illuminate a point the text is making?

This last is the primary goal of pictures. Pictures serve two purposes in my book: to show people pretty images, and to show people how to make pretty images. A lot of the heavier math texts I read can still be very informative if they have good illustrations that make it clear what the writer is trying to say. Still, you don’t want to lean on the pictures too heavily, the text still has to make sense.

My early drafting process has been to write the chapter without illustrations. I insert an [ILLUSTRATE] tag into my text where I think an image would/should go, and then I move on. So far this seems to be working okay. I’m remembering from writing the first fractal book that what I think is a clear explanation and image isn’t always what people actually understand, so I may have to try a few different images, and change the text accordingly.

It probably doesn’t make sense to talk this long about pictures without showing you one, so here is a Minkowski sausage:

kochQuadMinkowskiSausageL3

Neat, huh?

One other weird quirk of the early going is the feeling that I’ve written this all before. In some ways, this fractal book is the culmination of 5-10 years of thinking about fractals, as well as an intense period of six months research. I have run through the progression of thoughts that make up the first chapters dozens of times in my head, and even though this one of the first times I’m committing them to paper in this particular order, it still feels like something I’ve been doing all along. Probably some of that comes from blogging about fractals, that’s really where this recent and previous interest started.

Last thought of the day is a nice little moment at the library. I was checking out yet another fractal reference, and got to talking with the librarian about the new book, and how I got interested in fractals back in the 6th grade EPP program at school (more than 18 years ago now). Turns out, her son had just recently been part of the same program, and had loved fractals and all of the ways you could use them to make math beautiful. It’s for these kinds of kids and curious adults that I’m writing this book, and it was a nice little encouragement to know that they’re still out there.

Have a good week. I’ll check in when I can.

kochTriCurveSingleLineOneTenthL5

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