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Nature is alive and talking to us. This is not a metaphor. – Terrence McKenna

Fractals are the unifying patterns of nature and they are key to understanding the mathematical language of nature.

Natural organisms like plants, trees, animals and humans grow in fractal patterns and the fractal structures of ecosystems and geographical formations can be observed from outer space using satellites.

Fractals are literally everywhere!

Observe these unifying patterns to start learning to recognize the fractal patterns that are all around you in the design of the natural world.

1. Rivers

The flow of rivers takes on a fractal structure that can be observed from satellites. Pictured here is the Ganges River Delta in India, which is home to the world’s largest mangrove forest known as the Sunderbans.

2. Mountains

Many mountain ranges have been carved by the forces of nature over millions of years. The flow of glaciers and water has fundamentally shaped these mountains in the Canadian Rockies.

The fractal shape of mountains and valleys in the Canadian Rockies.

3. Coastlines

The coastlines of the world exhibit a jagged, fractal structure that has been eroded by centuries of crashing waves. Here you see the rocky coastline near Hautulco, Mexico.

A rocky fractal coastline near Hautulco, Mexico.

4. Trees

Seeing the forest for the trees involves the deeper holistic understanding of the interconnectedness of forest ecosystems. Trees exhibit a fractal structure in a number of ways: in their branches, leaves and root systems.

5. Plants

The leaves and root system of plants exhibit a fractal structure in how they grow from light from the sun. Here you have a spectacular example of fractal structure with the Romanesco Broccoli from Italy.

Fractal Plants Romanesco Broccoli

6. Mycelium

What’s being called the Earth’s Internet and the Wood Wide Web is an interconnected web of fungi mycelium that grows in symbiotic mycorrhizal relationship with tree and plant root system in a relationship in a seemingly infinite number of directions.

Fractal Fungi Mycelium In The Soil

7. DNA

At the microscopic level, our DNA exhibits a fractal structure and while it can be preserved in images like this one, it actually exists in a constant motion and flow as it wraps new information in its signature double helix spiral of life.

The DNA Fractal Spiral of Life

8. Galaxies

As above, so below. At the microscopic level the properties of atoms exhibit fractality and at the macroscopic level the Milky Way Galaxy exhibits a similar fractal structure, as do solar systems and possibly even the entire fabric of the Universe.

The Milky Way Fractal Galaxy

9. Pi

Pi is a sacred number. In reality it is the basis of Everything because everything is composed of cycles that spin, orbit or rotate. It is a number that goes on forever, never repeating itself, ad infinitum. Pi goes to infinity, and has never been calculated with finality because it is impossible.

10. The Golden Ratio

Pi and other fractal structures can be represented by the golden ratio. Within this infinite stream of never repeating numbers lies the Big Bang and the meaning of life, the programming code for DNA and the Fibonacci sequence, an archetypal growth pattern visible in seeds, flowers, petals, pine cones, fruit and vegetables.

Aren’t fractals amazing!? You will find this unifying pattern throughout the natural world.

Want to take a deeper dive into fractals and sacred geometry?

Then watch this mind-bending short film about even the structure of the Universe may be fractal in nature.

Kyle Pearce

Kyle is a learning experience designer and experienced naturalist who leads educational retreats and group storytelling adventures around the world through Awecology.

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