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Indra's Pearls: Geometry and Symmetry

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr O. Rath Spivack.

All welcome. If you’re curious about fractals, come to this talk, based on the book of the same title by David Mumford, Caroline Series and David Wright, published by Cambridge University Press.

In Buddhist mythology, the heaven of Indra was said to contain a net of pearls, each of which was reflected in its neighbours, so that the whole Universe was mirrored in each pearl.

Felix Klein, one of the great nineteenth-century geometers, studied the geometry of infinitely repeating reflections, each simple in itself, but whose interactions produce delicate fractal filigrees, curiously reminiscent of the Buddhist myth.

In the 1980’s, the authors of Indra’s Pearls embarked on a computer exploration of Klein’s ideas, and in doing so, found further extraordinary images of their own. Starting from basic mathematical ideas, the author Caroline Series will explain the simple algorithms whose repetition creates delicate fractal filigrees. The pictures encode a wealth of mathematical meaning, but you don’t have to be a mathematician to enjoy this talk.

This talk is part of the Lucy Cavendish College series.

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