I believe the human mind is tuned to appreciate fractals. Many natural phenomena exhibit well-defined fractal dimensions, so it seems reasonable that we should evolve neural circuitry that feels at ease when exposed to fractal scenes in views of clouds, mountains, or forests.
In addition, research shows us that Jackson Pollock’s paintings have well-defined fractal dimensions. His work is uncomplicated and straight-forward, so (art history aside) what other characteristic could we point to as an explanation for why his paintings are so easily appreciated by so many as art?
At any rate, this is how I help justify to myself the time I spend playing around with fractals. If you don’t have time to go for a hike in the woods or visit your local museum, you might enjoy exploring the Mandelbrot Set instead. I recently updated my Java applet for exploring the Mandelbrot Set, so now you can help share my obsession. The main feature of this updated version of the applet is a way to share interesting or artistic views of the Mandelbrot set just by sending someone a link. To see what I mean, try following some of the links below:
When you use the applet, the “URL” field updates to reflect your current view. If you want to share that view with others, you can copy that URL text and paste it into an email or blog post, or include it in a comment below. To select the URL, just double-click in the text field and then right-click to bring up the context menu, and select “Copy”. If the link is too long for your email program, you can use tinyurl.com to make it smaller.
If you have any questions about the applet or think you may have encountered a bug, please feel free to contact me directly.