MATC Mathematics Club
Lecture #60

Madison Area Technical College
Madison, Wisconsin


Spring 2007 Presentation #60 (Friday, March 2, 2007)
by Professor Clint Sprott, UW - Madison, Physics Department

"A Fractal View of the World"

Abstract:Since the time of the ancient Greek philosophers, we have been taught that the geometry of lines and surfaces and solids is the proper description of the world. Recently, a new type of geometry has emerged in which the fundamental objects are "fractals." Fractals have non-integer dimension and self-similar structure on all scales. Natural objects such as rivers, mountains, clouds, snowflakes, trees, plants, and landscapes are best described by fractal geometry. Examples of fractals will be shown, and methods will be described whereby you can generate fractal patterns on your computer and analyze their properties.

Biography: Julien Clinton Sprott, born September 16, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee, received his B.S. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964 and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1969. He worked at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for several years before returning to the University of Wisconsin in 1973, where he is now a Professor of Physics.
His research has been primarily in the area of experimental plasma physics and controlled nuclear fusion. In 1989 his interests turned to nonlinear dynamics, chaos, fractals, and complexity. He has authored or coauthored about 300 scientific papers in these and related fields.
Professor Sprott has written a number of books, including "Introduction to Modern Electronics", "Numerical Recipes and Examples in BASIC," "Strange Attractors: Creating Patterns in Chaos," "Chaos and Time-series Analysis," "Images of a Complex World: The Art and Poetry of Chaos," and "Physics Demonstrations."  He has produced dozens of educational videos and has given his popular presentation of "The Wonders of Physics" over 180 times to a total audience of over 60,000. He has produced several commercial educational software programs, one of which won the first annual "Computers in Physics" award for innovative software in physics education.
He received the John Glover Award from Dickinson College, the Van Hise Outreach Award for Excellence in Teaching from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Association of Physics Teachers for his work in public science education. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of Sigma Xi, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the New England Complex Systems Institute, and the Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology and the Life Sciences.

Dr. Clint Sprott, UW-Madison

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