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Ron Eglash: African Fractals in Buildings and Braids

Ron Eglash is an ethno-mathematician: he studies the way math and cultures intersect. He has shown that many aspects of African design -- in architecture, art, even hair braiding -- are based on perfect fractal patterns.

Ron Eglash: African Fractals in Buildings and Braids

"Ethno-mathematician" Ron Eglash is the author of African Fractals, a book that examines the fractal patterns underpinning architecture, art and design in many parts of Africa. By looking at aerial-view photos -- and then following up with detailed research on the ground -- Eglash discovered that many African villages are purposely laid out to form perfect fractals, with self-similar shapes repeated in the rooms of the house, and the house itself, and the clusters of houses in the village, in mathematically predictable patterns.

When Europeans first came to Africa, they considered the architecture very disorganized and thus primitive. It never occurred to them that the Africans might have been using a form of mathematics that they hadn't even discovered yet. -- Ron Eglash, Mathematician


His other areas of study are equally fascinating, including research into African and Native American cybernetics, teaching kids math through culturally specific design tools (such as the Virtual Breakdancer applet, which explores rotation and sine functions), and race and ethnicity issues in science and technology. Eglash teaches in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and he recently co-edited the book Appropriating Technology, about how we reinvent consumer tech for our own uses.

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#2 ina 2012-02-09 18:07
It is eglashtic to know there are some people who are serious about their role on this planet and deliver the truth about Africa. It is useful and contributes to the development of science worldwide. Well done Ron! I am proud of you and will share your works with my children aged 11 and 6, as well as my people as well. Please keep me posted.
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#1 Gina Kessee 2012-01-19 17:06
Truly fascinating and wonderful! I do believe that much of what we learn from our ancestors, whether, formal or informal, has so much of a basis in the things we do automatically and even our thought patterns. I never heard of ethno-mathemati cs before accessing africaresource. com. I am glad that this resource thrives.
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Last Updated on Friday, 03 January 2014 18:06

Home Lifestyle Architecture Ron Eglash: African Fractals in Buildings and Braids