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The Length of a Coastline

In the nineties, fifteen or so years ago, when I began posting mathematical poems on the Internet, two of my earliest connections were Ken Stange, a poet and polymath and professor of psychology at Ontario's Nipissing University, and his daughter Kate, then a teen. Kate publicized her love of mathematics and poetry by creating an online collection,"Mathematical Poetry: A Small Anthology" which she has continued to maintain for many years--during which she has completed undergraduate and graduate studies in mathematics.
**Don't Trust the Distance Markers** by Ken Stange
* How long is the Coast of Britain?... All measurement methods ultimately lead *
* to the conclusion that {any} coastline's length is very large and so ill determined *
* that it is best considered infinite ... length is an inadequate concept*.
-- Benoit B. Mandelbrot (*The Fractal Geometry of Nature*)
Believe in progess . if you must
but don't believe . in milestones.
.
They're merely monuments . to Mister Euclid
who always worked at home.
.
They allege . to give distance.
.
But one never achieves distance
from what one loves, and as
mistress knows, the traveller loves his road.
.
Besides no way flies like crow, so
all how-fars just have-to-be
fractal:
.
a mathematical function
.
of how closely
one looks
.
of how closely
one follows
the curves.
.
.
Not that this is reason . to complain!
.
Every coy bend just ahead is worth
at least ten significant digits
many thousand rigid rulers
and a million quantum
memories.
.
It's been established:
.
we do have world enough . (if not time)
and exploring . my lady . 'tis no crime.
"Don't Trust the Distance Markers" is from Ken Stange's *Advice to Travelers* (Penumbra Press, 1994). Benoit Mandelbrot also was featured in this blog's May 14 posting.
__Addendum__: I have just learned of the death of Benoit Mandelbrot on Thursday, October 14, 2010. Here is a link to his *NYTimes* obituary.
JoAnne,

ReplyDeleteTalk about falling down the rabbit hole. There is a lot of stuff here.

As for the poem I love the following line

“Besides no way flies like crow, so

all how-fars just have-to-be

fractal:”

David Perrings