Fractals, chaos, and bed sheets.

Read about fractals enough, and you begin to see them everywhere: in drapery and in gutters, in sand dunes and snow drifts. You see them in the ice frozen on a pond. You see them in the pattern of sunlight cast on the bricks of a building. They reside in trees that have been stripped bare of leaves. They dwell in timber.

John Briggs suggests in his book, Fractals: the Patterns of Chaos, that we see fractals everyday in ‘trees, mountains, the scattering of leaves in the backyard.’ He describes fractal geometry as ‘the tracks and marks left by the passage of dynamical activity.’

So, when a character in my novel sees fractals in bed sheets, she can’t help but wonder if the patterns in the wrinkles of the sheets are evidence of the dynamical activity of the person who slept on them. She wonders if the sheets are a map, of sorts, of where the sleeper has traveled in their journey through the night.

Makes sense to me. We all wonder this sort of stuff, right?


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