Friday, March 7, 2008

Quantum Broccoflower

For some time now, I've been fascinated by the importance of fractals in nature. These are mathematical relationships that create a certain type of geometry best characterized as "self-similar". I'll let the mathematicians explain. See . Fractals are closely related to the Fibonacci sequence, in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers, thus 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and so on. You are saying Why is this in a blog about gardening and food??. Because plants grow according to this mathematical sequence and are themselves fractal in form. The distances between nodes at the growth apex follow the Fibonacci sequence. As shown in this picture of Romanesco broccoflower (a cross between broccoli and cauliflower) , there is a lot of self-similarity to be seen.

But I was surprised to find this picture on the cover of Science illustrating a special issue on quantum matter. The explanation:

"Like a cauliflower, the quantum critical regime has the same appearance irrespective of viewing distance."

See, fractals really do describe the universe and everything.