On Exploring the Driest

Our knowledge is a receding mirage in an expanding desert of ignorance. (Will Durant, historian)

You should not see the desert simply as some faraway place of little rain. There are many forms of thirst. (William Langewiesche, author)

No doubt about it – deserts are dry. Because all deserts are not created equal, where is the driest desert on our planet?

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Surely you didn’t guess the place in the image above, which is Death Valley in California. Besides, I’m confident the Atacama Desert quickly came to everyone’s mind.

Yes, the Atacama – a 600 mile (1,000 km) high plateau in Chile. The Atacama – sandwiched between the Andes Mountains to its east and the Pacific Ocean to its west. The Atacama – the land of stone, sand, and salt lakes. The Atacama – a land of unique flora and fauna that is sparsely populated by people.

Unlike previous posts in this series, today’s Explore provides two short looks at Atacama – an initial drive through the desert followed by the beauty of its night sky. Enjoy this journey to a land you may not have known until now.

On an Infinite Journey

Fractal – any of various extremely irregular curves or shapes for which any suitably chosen part is similar in shape to a given larger or smaller part when magnified or reduced to the same size (Merriam-Webster)

Fractal – a never-ending pattern. Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop. Driven by recursion, fractals are images of dynamic systems – the pictures of Chaos. (The Fractal Foundation)

All created forms are fractal, as is their purpose, use, and allotted time for existence. (Guy Finley, writer)

The universe is fractal. The closer you look at it, the more interesting it becomes. (John Lloyd, producer)

Fractal geometry is everywhere, even in lines drawn in the sand. It’s the cycle of life… You see fractals in plants, in flowers. Within the human lung are branches within branches. (Ron Eglash, scientist)

Enjoy this visual journey, but some may find the audio as distracting or annoying.

On Exploring a Natural Pattern

Everything must be made as simple as possible. But not simpler. (Albert Einstein, physicist)

Paul Green, at Stanford, has argued persuasively that the Fibonacci series is just what one would expect as the simplest self-repeating pattern that can be generated by the particular growth processes in the growing tips of the tissues that form sunflowers, pine cones, and so forth. (Stuart A. Kauffman, MD)

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. (Albert Einstein, physicist)

Without mathematics there is no art. (Luca Pacioli, mathematician and collaborator with Leonardo da Vinci)

On Exploring Dimensions

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Life has its dimensions in the mysterious. (Jesse Jackson, activist)

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions. (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.. judge)

The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness. (Lao Tzu, philosopher)

I’ve always been thinking in three dimensions, ever since I started working with computer animation in the early ’80s. (John Lasseter, director)

In the final analysis, a drawing simply is no longer a drawing, no matter how self-sufficient its execution may be. It is a symbol, and the more profoundly the imaginary lines of projection meet higher dimensions, the better. (Paul Klee, artist)

On Exploring Ballooning

I pick projects according to how fascinating they are to me, and it has resulted in a broad reach. My records are actually in five different sports: balloons, airplanes, airships, gliders, and sailboats. (Steve Fossett, aviator)

The balloons only have one life and the only way of finding out whether they work is to attempt to fly around the world. (Richard Branson, businessman)

My dream date is a tall, dark, handsome, blue-eyed man with a bubble butt who will whisk me away to Paris in a hot air balloon to wine me, dine me and. (Karen McDougal, model)

My grandmother flew only once in her life, and that was the day she and her new husband ascended into the skies of Victorian London in the wicker basket of a hot-air balloon. They were soon to emigrate to Canada, and the aerial ride was meant to be a last view of their beloved England. (Alan Bradley, writer)

If there was the opportunity to climb a mountain, or to go ballooning, or some adventurous activity, I would always be keen to do it. I loved the countryside. (Roger Bannister, athlete)