To appreciate the nature of fractals, recall Galileo’s splendid manifesto that “Philosophy is written in the language of mathematics and its characters are triangles, circles and other geometric figures, without which one wanders about in a dark labyrinth.” Observe that circles, ellipses, and parabolas are very smooth shapes and that a triangle has a small number of points of irregularity. Galileo was absolutely right to assert that in science those shapes are necessary. But they have turned out not to be sufficient, “merely” because most of the world is of infinitely great roughness and complexity. However, the infinite sea of complexity includes two islands: one of Euclidean simplicity, and also a second of relative simplicity in which roughness is present, but is the same at all scales.
DAVE SCOTT: And we’d like another telephoto lens. DEKE SLAYTON: Dave, we’re already at our weight limit, you know that. DAVE SCOTT: I’ve thought of that. With the new shorter rendez-vous, maybe we could trade some abort propellant. DEKE SLAYTON: Abort propellant. For a rake. DAVE SCOTT: Well, a rake and a lens.