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NOVA: Hunting The Hidden Dimension

Airs Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Body in motion, fractals at work: A test subject fitted with body motion sensors demonstrates the balancing reflex for Richard Taylor at the University of Oregon. Taylor and other scientists are looking for — and finding — fractal patterns in this kind of sub-conscious human movement.

Design a Fractal

Create and save your own wildly colorful fractals using our generator.

A Radical Mind

Mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot is a true maverick, as his interview reveals.

What do movie special effects, the stock market, heart attacks and the rings of Saturn have in common? They're all connected by a revolutionary new branch of math called fractals, which has changed the way we see the world and opened up a vast new territory to scientific analysis and understanding.

For centuries, fractal-like irregular shapes were considered beyond the boundaries of mathematical understanding. Now, mathematicians have finally begun mapping this uncharted territory. Their remarkable findings are deepening our understanding of nature and stimulating a new wave of scientific, medical, and artistic innovation stretching from the ecology of the rain forest to fashion design.

"Hunting The Hidden Dimension" tells the dramatic story of a group of pioneering mathematicians who developed fractals from a curiosity that few took seriously to an approach that is touching nearly every branch of understanding - including what happened after the Big Bang and the ultimate fate of our universe.

Video

Video Excerpt: NOVA: Hunting the Hidden Dimension

Above: Weaving together fresh reporting from the front lines of science with a mathematical detective story, NOVA's "Hunting the Hidden Dimension" takes us into the mysterious realm inside our world that these maverick mathematicians endeavor to map, exploring the remarkable findings that are deepening our understanding of nature and inspiring a new wave of scientific innovation.