## The Jurassic Park Fractal

Introduction

Why study fractals?
fractals, anyway?

Fractal Properties
Self-similarity
Fractional dimension
Formation by iteration

For Teachers
Teachers' Notes
Teacher-to-Teacher

Fractals on the Web
The Math Forum

Other Math Lessons
by Cynthia Lanius

Have you ever read Jurassic Park? I know you saw the movie, but did you read the book? Did you notice the bizarre drawings on the chapter heading pages? They look kind of like partial squares. They're labeled First Iteration, Second Iteration, etc., and they get more and more complex with each iteration.

I'm going to show you how to make this fractal by paper-folding. So Cool! For the Jurassic Park Fractal we are going to start with a narrow strip of paper, let's say approximately 1" by 11". Construction paper works really well because it has a little more stiffness.

Take the strip in both hands, fold the paper over end-to-end, right hand onto left, and crease. Now fold it again in the same way, right onto left, and crease, and again, right onto left and crease, and again right onto left and crease. You have folded it four times in all, right?

Before you open the paper out, can you imagine what it will look like unfolded? Let's unfold and see. Now you may be saying, this is just a mess of folded paper. How can this be a fractal? Well, we have to put some order to it.

Lay the paper on its edge. Crease all the folds as right angles. Then rotate it until it matches up with the figure below. Be sure to find the closed-up square. See? You did it! It's the same shape!

### Jurassic Park, Chapter One,

"At the earliest drawing of the fractal curve, few clues to the underlying mathematical structure will be seen" - IAN MALCOLM

Next: Watch as the fractal grows from the first to the fourth step.

Desperately Seeking Sue from the Why Files
Skeletons from the Dragonfly Web Pages
The Movies Website
The Jurassic Park Institute with GREAT resources for teachers