Google Labs has just launched Julia Map, an app that renders fractals in your browser using HTML5.

Julia sets are fractals that were studied by the French mathematician Gaston Julia in the 1920s. Some fifty years later, Beno�t Mandelbrot studied one of these sets (z2 - c) and popularized it by generating the first computer visualization (and of course coining the term fractal).

The generation of fractals requires heavy computational resources, but now browsers have optimized JavaScript up to the point where you can render some fractal sets almost instantly in a browser. And that's precisely what Julia Map aims to do.

It uses the Google Maps API to zoom and pan into the fractals. The images are computed with HTML 5 canvas. According to Google, Each image generally requires millions of floating point operations. Web workers spread the heavy calculations on all cores of the machine.

Google asks people to use the hashtag #juliamap to show off the images you've discovered if you tweet them out. Whether you opt to share your fractals or not, it's a pretty fun new tool.

Audrey Watters


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