# Tag: Sierpinski Sieve

## On the Why of Poetry

A Sierpinski sieve. Thanks to the magic of Ricochet this one is even more fractal than it looks; there’s a sixth level of the pattern hidden in the image resizing.

Last time I wrote about poetry I took a scientist’s view of the matter. This time I’m starting in math. Clearly, I understand what all this poetry stuff is about. Do y’all remember what a fractal is? It’s a pattern that repeats itself all the way down.

Imagine, if you will, that those white triangles are islands in a sea of black. You have a continent in the middle, a couple isles nearby, and more and more islands and islets the further away you get from that central continent. It’s bad water for navigating in because there’s an infinite number of rocks, pebbles, and even smaller navigation hazards poking up out of the surface of the water. Maybe it’s more of a swamp than an ocean. Okay, now zoom in. Let’s say you’re small enough that you live on one of the islands. You can deduce the pattern; you know that just over thataways there’s a bigger island. Is there another, larger one beyond it, or are we looking at the top of the pattern?

## The Map, the Model, and the Territory

The Map

Let’s start with a simple question. How long is the coastline of Lake Superior? Here, let me google that for you. “Shore length 1,729 mi (2,783 km) plus 997 mi (1,605 km) for islands”. Thanks, Wikipedia! Right away we can see a problem. Are you counting those islands or not? I’m saying count every last thing. All of it. Okay, include the islands. What other complications are we going to run into?