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A Documentary On Fractals Narrated By Arthur C. Clarke With Music By David Gilmour


A visionary narrator took a quantum leap into the musical past even as he wrote about the future.

Fractals are a revolutionary mathematical discovery which have allowed us to understand systems’ operations over periods of time. But beyond the realm of statistics, fractals have entered the popular imagination as symbols of natural forms, repetitive forms like those of broccoli, tree branches and patterns on the surfaces of plants, rocks, and animals. They’ve visually fascinated several generations now.

Arthur C. Clarke is a science-fiction writer most famous for his work 2001; A Space Odyssey. In 1995, Clarke lent his voice to narrate a documentary on fractals. Titled Fractals: The Colors of Infinity, it’s the story of mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot’s discovery, fractal geometry and what’s been called “God’s fingerprint,” as fractals suggest that matter understood through time seems to imply a further meaning.

The dispersion of stars across the night sky, or grains of sand on the beach, can be graphically represented over time. Likewise, through their visual appeal, fractals draw our attention by scaling human temporal experiences in a range that’s greatly reduced relative to other temporal experiences of the universe. Our measure of time is relative to our brief existences. But the pollination of fields, the movements of schools of fish, and other natural processes, defy the preeminence of the human temporal scale.

Along with interviews with leading mathematicians, the documentary features original music written by Pink Floyd guitarist, David Gilmour. Fractal visualizations appeal to both the intellect and the imagination, and Gilmour’s technical and expressive skill on the guitar provides an excellent accompaniment to any observation of the colorful, even psychedelic, fractal graphics.

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