An Elegant, Intelligent Design – 2 pics

Recently, I’ve given a lot of thought to the natural structure of trees (see On Wood on Wood) and how this pattern is repeated throughout nature.  After capturing these images last week of century old Japanese maples at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, curiously I began to look online for an explanation on this natural phenomenon.  What I found is utterly fascinating!  I hope you will read on, and be inspired as you learn a little more about the elegant, intelligent design blueprint found in nature.

Japanese Maple Abstract 1
Japanese Maple Abstract 1

After a moderate amount of digging, two primary explainations emerged – Fractal Geometry and the Fibonacci Sequence or Golden Mean.  The later will have to be discussed in a later post.

Fractal geometry emerged 100 years ago as mathematicians struggled with formulas which described and visualized a curve. A the time Georg Cantor and Helge von Koch offered formulas which visualized how self-simulation (extending a basic structure by repeating itself, each time on a smaller scale) is used to create infinitely complex branching structures.  During WW1, Gaston Julia would apply a feedback loop to a simple formula to create an even more complex set of numbers, the Julia Set.  Unfortunately, the huge amount of numbers was too complex to visualize.  Enter Benoit Mandelbrot in the 1980s.

History of Fractal Geometry

While working at IBM, Mandelbrot made further mathematical refinements to the Julia Set and applied the emerging power of computers to iterate his equations millions of times.  The results were then applied to a visual graph.  Thus the Mandelbrot Set and fractal geometry was widely introduced to the world.  Suddenly, we had a new tool to see previously hidden structures reoccurring over and over again, throughout the natural world and the heavens above.

Japanese Maple Abstract 2
Japanese Maple Abstract 2

We can see fractals in the systems which distribute life sustaining resources – circulatory, respiratory, neural and renal systems; and, in clouds, steams, rivers and lightening   As life grows, Nature uses a simple fractal code to instruct biological networks how and when to branch.  There’s beauty not only in the visual aspects of the branching tree images in this post, but also in knowing there is a natural order (albeit mathematically) underlying our perceived chaos.  Spiritually, there seems to be something going on here.  Perhaps this supports the case for God’s hand in the world – an elegant, intelligent design.

Thanks for taking time to read this post.  For a deeper dive, see PBS Nova’s Fractals The Hidden Dimension.

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23 thoughts on “An Elegant, Intelligent Design – 2 pics

  1. Cool post.The Golden Mean is not just about trees. It’s everything in nature. It’s the foundation of good design. It’s even you and me. 🙂 Think about it. Where do your arms come out of your body? About 2/3 of the way up? And, your hips and legs… 🙂 It’s just pretty much the natural order of things.

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    1. Thanks Ray, you are a very hip cat! Yea, like the bone proportions from your arm socket to your fingernail follow the Fibonacci Sequence, and how sunflowers, nautilus shell and galaxies follow the Fibonacci spiral. Why didn’t we learn this in grade school!

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      1. I’m not very hip. 🙂 I just have too many unused degrees. I’m not sure that we didn’t learn version of it in grade school, it was probably buried in math courses and nobody paid attention. I’ll you what happens. If you do WordPress photo challenges, they sometimes ask people to make a picture according to “The Rule of Thirds.” The general response is something very Homer Simpsonish; “I’m not following no darn rules, doh!” Heh, heh.

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  2. Very interesting post! Most camera images are a 2:3 ratio the original 35mm is 36×24 mm. That’s one of the reasons I don’t like to crop images. Guess I’m a Purest! I’m glade you included God in your thoughts.

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  3. As a former software developer, one of the most profound experiences I had was coming up with an elegant solution to an extremely challenging problem. The profound part was this: when it’s beautiful, you know it’s right, and then all that remains is to just code it.

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