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Math club unveils giant fractal in

science complex

Photo By: Alex Bell/The Behrend Beacon


Alex Bell, News Editor

This Thursday, the math club worked together to build a seventh iteration Sierpinski Tetrahedron. Wondering what that is? Well, it will be suspended above the heads of hundreds of science and engineering students soon, as the club has announced it will be hanging their creation (safely) above the walkway in Roche Hall.

The impressive structure is a fractal built from small plastic triangles formed into pyramids and stacked until those individual triangles compose a much larger pyramid. Fractals are seen in a variety of contexts because of their visual appeal. Because the entire structure is created in the likeness of its smallest part - the triangle in this case - the shape appears to expand into a web if it is looked at in a certain perspective. This artistic value made the event an important step for the math club.

“I think it’s important that people see that math isn’t all this hard stuff, there’s art in it too,” said Thomas Galvin, president of the math club. “And there’s math in art too,” Galvin continued, alluding to well-known works of art such as The Great Wave off Kanagawa, which depicts waves in a fractal.

To showcase the blend of mathematics and art, the math club worked with the Student Government Association’s Beautification Committee. The committee, created this year, is focused on creating works around campus to highlight student work and give students a boost to their school pride.

Galvin has said that the club is trying to create new events and has introduced a party at the end of every fall semester to get members more interested in participating and draw in more of the student body. The blend of one main focus with other interests, as the fractal blended math and art, could be an interesting trend for clubs on campus.

Student participation at the event was relatively large, drawing in more than 10 students, some not even members of the math club, to construct the entire fractal over the course of several hours.