Sam Palmer is a creator of mathematical digital art, which he shares through Twitter, on Reddit and on his website. He uses the open source sketching software Processing to generate both static and animated graphics with beautiful geometric themes. Well, a lot of people think they’re beautiful; some people actually find some of his gifs a little unsettling:
The Chalkdust issue 16 cover art in particular was inspired by a transitional animation of falling Koch snowflakes, in a piece named Some assembly required:
The Koch snowflake is a particularly beautiful famous shape and is one example of the group of mathematical objects known as fractals. Fractals are self-similar objects, and have really interesting mathematical properties, including non-integer dimension. For the particular example of the Koch snowflake, this shape has infinite perimeter but finite area. Other popular fractals include Sierpinski’s triangle, the Menger sponge, and the Mandelbrot set.
The Koch snowflake shape is built up iteratively by starting from an equilateral triangle, and adding smaller equilateral triangles (specifically a ninth of the area of the previous triangle added) in the middle of each side of the shape:
Fancy trying out the software? The Processing programming language is based on Java, and when you open it up for the first time there are links to some great tutorials and templates. It’s available for Windows, MacOS and Linux, so you have no excuse.
Need inspiration for a title for your artwork? How about The Koch Ness Monster, Kochodile Rock or even BBC News at Ten O’Koch
More from Chalkdust
Beyond MeasureWe review the sixth of this year’s nominees for the Book of the Year
The Irrational Diary of Clara ValentineWe review the fifth of this year’s nominees for the Book of the Year
Math Games with Bad DrawingsWe review the fourth of this year’s nominees for the Book of the Year
Peculiar Deaths of Famous MathematiciansWe review the third of this year’s nominees for the Book of the Year
An Introduction to the Math of Voting MethodsWe review the second of this year’s nominees for the Book of the Year
A Ring of Cats and DogsWe review the first of this year’s nominees for the Book of the Year