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Title:Fractal Lasers for a Fractal World
Author(s):Steinforth, Austin
Abstract:Picture a laser beam. You might be envisioning a laser light show, a red dot flitting around a projector screen during a presentation, or perhaps even your favorite Star Wars movie! Laser light appears to be quite simple: a beam of light with brilliant color that leaves a bright, round spot on the wall. Now imagine that the light on the wall isn’t the unadorned circular spot that you’re accustomed to. Rather, you see a design like one of those shown in the image. These simulated laser shapes are fractals—intricate, nested patterns with very fine details that appear similar at multiple magnifications. Fractals have long been admired for their complex beauty and have received much attention recently in the form of computer-generated artwork. However, they are also abundant naturally: snowflakes, lightning, the branching of the Grand Canyon, and even blood coagulation on the microscopic scale, to name a few. Developing lasers that mimic the fractality of our world merges the intrinsic beauties of science, nature, and art. Because lasers are an incredibly versatile tool in science, we can also gain a deeper understanding of natural fractal phenomena by making the tool, the laser beam itself, a fractal.
Issue Date:2021
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Austin Steinforth
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-04-12

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