Finding Fractals in the 1930s



The fascinating properties of fractals are surprising because their visual complexity often arises from simple equations. [CodeParade] wanted to show how simple a fractal is by creating them thanks to the technology of the 30s. The basic idea is based on projectors and cameras, which were both readily available and widely used on television (CRT projectors were in theaters in 1938, although they were only in color in the 1950s).

By projecting two superimposed images on the wall, pointing a camera at the resulting image, and then feeding it back into the spotlight, you get beautiful fractals. [CodeParade] does not have a projector, let alone two. So he did what any hacker could do and came up with a clever workaround. He has created a simple application that “projects” onto his monitor and all he has to do is point an external webcam at the screen. The resulting analog fractals are quite beautiful and tactile. Rather than modifying a variable and recompiling it, all you need to do is add a finger or move the camera to introduce new noise that quickly becomes a signal.

Better yet, there is a web version you can play with right now. For more fractals implemented in hardware rather than software, there’s this FPGA with a VHDL Mandelbrot set we’ve covered.


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