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Ph.D. Thesis

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A forgotten paper
Benoît Mandelbrot Mathematician
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But of course in 1950, which is the period I'm talking about, it was a very long time before my finding out in '72 that I might not have been alone. As a matter of fact, a little bit later, when I was no longer at Philips, I wrote a little paper on scaling which I'd forgotten about until I stumbled across it a few months ago, in which I made a statement that those techniques make you think inevitably of critical phenomena. I was thinking of critical opalescence, which was something I'd read about, I was fascinated, but I said, "In physics nothing can diverge, whereas I need divergences." Of course, the physicists had to accept divergences also, but I didn't know it.

Benoît Mandelbrot (1924-2010) discovered his ability to think about mathematics in images while working with the French Resistance during the Second World War, and is famous for his work on fractal geometry - the maths of the shapes found in nature.

Listeners: Daniel Zajdenweber Bernard Sapoval

Daniel Zajdenweber is a Professor at the College of Economics, University of Paris.

Bernard Sapoval is Research Director at C.N.R.S. Since 1983 his work has focused on the physics of fractals and irregular systems and structures and properties in general. The main themes are the fractal structure of diffusion fronts, the concept of percolation in a gradient, random walks in a probability gradient as a method to calculate the threshold of percolation in two dimensions, the concept of intercalation and invasion noise, observed, for example, in the absorbance of a liquid in a porous substance, prediction of the fractal dimension of certain corrosion figures, the possibility of increasing sharpness in fuzzy images by a numerical analysis using the concept of percolation in a gradient, calculation of the way a fractal model will respond to external stimulus and the correspondence between the electrochemical response of an irregular electrode and the absorbance of a membrane of the same geometry.

Duration: 57 seconds

Date story recorded: May 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008