Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The plural of sheep is sheep

The plural of sheep is sheep. This is 'fractal-like' definition contained within our vocabulary. Here is a photoshopped visual of that same fractal concept. 

A fractal is an object or quantity that displays 'self-similarity'. When you look closer at a single subject you see that its made up of plurals of the same configuration. 

In a somewhat technical sense this happens on all scales and on all levels of our existence. The object need not exhibit exactly the same structure at any level of magnification, but the same "type" of structures must appear on all scales. 

Basically, a fractal is any pattern that reveals greater complexity as it is enlarged. Thus, fractals graphically portray the notion of 'worlds within worlds' which has obsessed Western culture from its tenth-century beginnings. 

Tomorrow let's look at  dry stone walls as exhibiting some of these obvious fractal properties.


  1. Their shape is definitely looking pretty 'sheepish'

  2. Looking forward to seeing where you are going with this John. I'm always amazed at the order that underlies even the most "natural" objects. This is really true with botany:

    "Trees may be called Fractals in Part" - Benoit Mandelbrot

    If you're interested more in this there's a great book called The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants that is now available on-line.

    /Scott C, who will sheepishly admit that while he's only a part time waller he is certainly a full time geek.

  3. Wow. That is a very cool book. Almost scary the way they can get mathematical formulas to define the intricate structures and shapes of known plants . Thanks for the link Scott

  4. Thank you Scott C for the incredible link, and yourself JSR for
    linking the links. A book that Scott C may enjoy is;
    The Secret Garden ~ Talking Beetles and Signaling Trees:
    The Hidden Way Gardens Communicate. (I'm a full time
    plant person / part time geek!