Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Viscosity & Fractals

While doing a little light reading [1], I came across this 1920 poem by Lewis Richardson--

Big whorls have little whorls,
That feed on their velocity;
And little whorls have lesser whorls,
And so on to viscosity.

Several people [1,2] have remarked on this poem's debt to Jonathan Swift's famous flea poem

So, Nat'ralists observe, a Flea
Hath smaller Fleas that on him prey,
And these have smaller Fleas to bite 'em
And so proceed ad infinitum.

[1]  Introducing Fractals: a Graphic Guide by Lesmoir-Gordon, Rood, and Edney (2009).
[2]  Wondering Minstrels, a poem-a-day blog that ran from 1999-2007.

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