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Let This Noir Cartoon Make Fractals Way More Accessible (Or At Least Entertaining)

Noted brilliant person David Foster Wallace once said in an interview that his magnum opus, Infinite Jest, was written with a fractal structure. Unfortunately, most of us might have our brains explode in trying to parse what that could possibly mean. Fortunately, someone has made the most user-friendly explanation of the concept of fractals ever.


Officially, a fractal is a mathematical set displaying self-similar patterns. As we’ve mentioned before, though, humans love receiving information in the form of a story, and now educators Alex Rosenthal and George Zaidan have done that in their TED Ed video, The Case of The Missing Fractal.


With a style that is a hybrid between old-school detective noir and even older-school mythology, The Case is the story of a private eye called Manny Brot–whose name is a clever reference to the famous Mandelbrot set. After taking a rock to the head, and encountering a weird gatekeeper character, Brot must use mind-bending logic to save the dame who put him on the case. You may not come away from the video understanding how David Foster Wallace plotted out his masterpiece, but at least you’ll get a new perspective on the fundamentals.

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