Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NOVA on Fractals

I've always had an appreciation for fractals. The concept of infinite detail being defined in a finite formula (usually mindblowingly small) has always been appealing to me. Unfortunately, the last time I got around to putting a lot of cycles into it, I still lacked much of the mathematics required to understand the mechanics behind them. (It has something to do with distances in the complex plane, I'm too tired to look it up right now...)

So it looks like for the first time in about 4 years, NOVA has pulled its head out of its ass and done a show on actually science. I've been getting really tired of their overdramatized scienceNOW! shows. Don't make the show appealing to Joe the Plumber, you're PBS, make it apealing to the technical crowd who is actually going to watch this show anyways.

As a sign that PBS is staying with the times, you can watch this episode online. Thanks PBS, we appreciate you!

UPDATE (10/29/80: After watching it, I can safely say that it was good. There was at least three "holy crap!" moments while watching it as they presented a really cool concept that seemed obvious once you heard it. At the same time, I was disappointed by PBS' failure to keep with the times: The entire episode was split between 5 quicktime/wmv clips. FAIL.
Hands down the coolest thing in the episode was Nathan Cohen (W1YW) mentioning his early experiments with fractal based antennas in the late 80s/early 90s. You think about it, and this concept is utterly genius. Fractals are defined as shaped with self similarity, which means it is the same on several orders of magnitude, which means it'll resonate at several orders of magnitude! Frustratingly enough, there is little information on anyone's experiments in this subject. The one link everyone mentions points to Fractal Antenna Systems retarded infomercial of a website, which at some point had a page on amateur experiments, but was so kindly taken down. Best I've found so far is a few diagrams (with no measurements) and an article that at least explains the advantages of them in non-salesman mode.
Super annoying to see such a cool concept be completely watered down because it's proprietary.

UPDATE (11/2/08): I emailed Fractal Antenna Systems on 10/29 requesting that they make available an old page in their domain that gave information about experimenting with fractal antennas for hams which has been taken down. No response at all. Don't get me wrong, I never expected anything to come of it anyways. I've been debating whether to email Nathan Cohen directly.

UPDATE (11/3/08): Thanks to Greg KG6SJT for finding a web page which reinterprets the Fractenna page, which means this information is no longer lost.

1 comment:

  1. neat! though the chances that i'm actually going to watch it are slim...

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