Top 6 Documentaries about Benoit Mandelbrot to Know Everything!

  • AUTHOR: ERIKA ROSS
  • POSTED ON: 20/Nov/2020
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Google updated its homepage logo with a doodle of Benoit Mandelbrot in honor of his 96th birthday!

Benoit Mandelbrot's 96th Birthday

Widely known as the ‘Father of Fractal Geometry’, Benoit Mandelbrot is a Polish-born French and American mathematician with great interests in the practical sciences, especially related to what he called as “the art of roughness” of physical phenomenon and “the uncontrolled element in life.”

Wondering what fractal geometry really is? 

Mandelbrot coined this term in 1975 to introduce a new branch of geometry that aims to make sense of all the irregular shapes and processes found in natural world and in our everyday lives. From snowflakes and ocean waves to the roller coaster rides of the stock market, he explained the mathematical phenomenon of all the irregular yet widely found shapes throughout nature.

Belonging from a Jewish family, Benoit Mandelbrot was born on 20th November 1924 in Warsaw, Poland. He received a non-standard education during his childhood because of his Jewish background, and that’s also why World War II has been quite influential in Benoit's life.

Prior to the outbreak of war, Benoit moved to France and received homeschooling from Szulim Mandelbrot, his uncle, who was also a mathematician living in Paris at that time. Benoit, after the war, finally enrolled himself in university where he earned a doctorate degree in mathematical sciences.

In addition to his significant contribution to mathematics, he also worked at IBM in New York where he created an algorithm that modelled landforms found in nature. He digitally recreated fractals like the ‘Mandelbrot Set,’ which demonstrated how mathematics can be a beautiful thing.

Among several Benoit Mandelbrot books , this was the major breakthrough of his career, and he published one of his famous books The Fractal Geometry of Nature in 1982. Benoit Mandelbrot Influenced Art and Mathematics – The Forward All his life, Benoit was driven by curiosity. He used to see things that a normal person couldn’t, things that may seem simple and usual to an average person; it was something extraordinary for Benoit. He experimented with ideas and was always looking for relationships. From big scientists and artists to school-going children, he could comfortably make fun conversations with almost everyone.

Unlike any other scientist who preferred to see and concentrate on everything at the minute and narrow aspects, he was a unique person who preferred to look at wider perspectives and thus saw more deeply.

His indispensable research and discoveries made valuable contributions to a wide array of fields, such as physics, finance, medicine, geology and arts. He revolutionized the way we see the world. Chris Anderson, the TED conference curator, described him as “an icon who changed how we see the world.”

On 14 October 2010, Mandelbrot died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 85 in a hospice in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Reacting to his death news, Mathematician Heinz-Otto Peitgen stated that if we consider the impact that was created inside mathematics along with applications in the sciences, Benoit is indeed the most significant figure.” Do you want to know more about him? Here are some of the top documentaries or new documentaries 2020 including Fractal documentary Netflix and short clips that reflect on the life of the legendary mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot:

Mandelbrot: The Secret Life Of Chaos


BBC Four short documentary about Mandelbrot explores the secret life of chaos, a theory that defines the common mathematical feature in all worldly chaos, such as the crinkled edges of shores and the irregular shapes of trees and their branches.

TED Talk ‘Benoit Mandelbrot: Fractals and the art of roughness


At TED2010, the legend himself discussed the extreme complexity of roughness and the way Benoit Mandelbrot fractal math can find order and sense within patterns that seem complicated.

Fractals: The hidden Dimension Fractals:


The Hidden Dimension is an episode of Nova, a long-running series of documentaries based on research and speculation associated with science and history.

The documentary narrates a theory discovered by Benoit Mandelbrot to describe the architecture and shapes used by nature. It’s a very informative documentary, explaining the complex terms and phenomena in a simpler and comprehensible way.

Fractals: The Color of Infinity


This is a documentary on Benoit’s discovered Fractal geometry narrated by Arthur C. Clarke, a science-fiction writer mostly known for his work 2001; A space Odyssey. In 1995, Clarke lent his voice to narrate a documentary on Fractals.

Fractals: The Colors of Infinity tells the story of a mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot’s discovery, fractal geometry and what has been called “God’s fingerprint,” as fractals indicate that the things understood through time appear to imply additional meaning.

The dispersion of stars across the night sky, the crinkled edges of the seashores, the grains of sand on the beach, can be graphically represented over time.

The documentary features interviews of leading mathematicians, and original music written by Pink Floyd and David Gilmour. With its outstanding visual effects and original score, this documentary provides an excellent explanation of everyday fractal graphics and visualization.

Ron Eglash: The Fractals at the heart of African Design


In this TED talk, Ron Eglash, a mathematician, talked about his experiences in Africa while researching the fractal patterns he had observed in villages across the continent. He used the theories coined by the mathematician, Benoit Mandelbrot.


Errol Morris starts his short documentary by inquiring a straightforward question from the legend himself: What is the origin of fractal stuff?

Mandelbrot answers this potentially complicated query with an answer which is inimitably comprehensible. When he viewed at stuff that appeared to be complex to others, all of them were quite transparent for him.

Morris’ documentary on Mandelbrot takes a simple approach to dissect his work and represent it in a narrative format in a way that is understandable to even those who don’t even belong to the mathematics background.

After watching the above-mentioned clips and documentaries, we’re pretty sure the world may not appear the same to you! All thanks to Benoit and his ground-breaking discoveries in the field of mathematics. 

Since now you know what is Benoit Mandelbrot famous for, bookmark Hayvine to read more about Benoit Mandelbrot biography, Benoit Mandelbrot awards and Benoit Mandelbrot education.


Updated 2020-11-20 at 06:59:02

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