Welcome to the Fractals, Chaos and Mandelbrot Set Workshop

As a high school physics teacher, I have been having a wonderful time exploring this fascinating new topic. I have developed a one hour lecture/multi-media presentaion that explains the basics of Fractals, Chaos and the Mandelbrot Set, which I have given many times to S.T.A.O (Science Teachers Association of Ontario), O.A.P.T. (Ontario Association of Physics Teachers), and E.C.O.O. (Educational Computing Organization of Ontario).

All things in heaven and in earth linked are,
That thou canst not stir a flower, without troubling a star.
Francis Thomson

Along with the presentation, I have a package that I give away to those in attendance. Because I have received so many requests for information from people, I have developed a condensed InfoPak that I am sure you will enjoy. It contains a computer disk with nine programs on it (DOS format), a beautiful colour postcard of the Mandelbrot Set, a button with an image generated from a zoom deep inside the Mandelbrot Set, and an eight page printout of most of the information in this section of my homepage. I would be glad to send you this Fractals, Chaos and the Mandelbrot Set InfoPak. For a while I was sending this out for free, but my costs have caught up with me. I would ask that you send $10 to cover postage and miscellaneous expenses. (Mail address at the end of this page.)

Simply stated, these ideas have changed the way I view the natural world. We can now understand in a deeper way the staggering complexity that we see all around us. The miraculously fascinating combination of the three elements of Iteration, Chaos, and Order produce the wonderful shapes and structures of life, and the physical world that supports that life. This basic idea is illustrated and explained in the computer program "The Chaos Game", which is one of the nine programs that is on the disk mentioned above.

If you want to really explore this incredibly interesting topic, you must do four things: (click here for a full paragraph review of each.)

1. Watch the NOVA video "The Strange New Science of Chaos". It is one of the best science programs I have ever seen. The only trouble is that you can't get this video anymore. It was aired back in 1989 (PBS) and was then available for about 3 years, but no longer. I'll be glad to send you a copy. (note: my original, purchased from WGBH-Boston is a VHS tape - remember those! - but I have it converted to DVD.) Just send me the S/H to mail it to you. ($10) Or, apparently you can borrow Gus Hart's DVD, here: http://msg.byu.edu/chaos.php

2. Next, watch the video "The Colours of Infinity". This aired just recently on the Discovery Channel. It is hosted by Arthur C. Clark, and is excellent. I don't know if you can buy this or not, so while I'm finding out, you can have a copy. (I taped it off the air.) Just send me the S/H. ($10)

3. Next read "The Turbulent Mirror" by John Briggs and F. David Peat - ISBN 0-06-016061-6, Harper & Row. Read this book before you read the one below, it's shorter, and more fun. You can get this book used, really cheap, from Amazon.

4. And finally, read "Chaos: The Making of a New Science" by James Gleick - ISBN 0-14-009250-1, Penguin Books. This book is in most every library, and lots of book stores, so you'll have no trouble finding it.

Workshop Table of Contents

The scientist does not study Nature because it is useful: he studies it because he delights in it,
And he delights in it because it is beautiful.
If Nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing,
And if Nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living.
Henri Poincare

I'd be glad to hear from you! (johnchilds@ripnet.com)
or send me real mail at:

John Childs
378 Cedar Sands Roadway
Lyndhurst, ON K0E 1N0