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In the epilogue of Contact (the book, not the movie), mathematicians discover a curious thing. They notice that if π is calculated in base eleven — a base extremely unlikely to be used natively by any naturally-evolving sentient species, making it an excellent format in which to hide something you don't want found by accident — and drawn out to a sufficient number of "decimal" places, one encounters a span of 121 consecutive digits that are all either 0 or 1. And if you rearrange these digits into an 11x11 square, which is the only non-degenerate rectangular arrangement that fits that total, the 1s form a crude circle of pixels on a background of 0s. This is taken as serious evidence of someone dropping the hint, "Math? Yeah. I made that."

Contact is fiction, though. What isn't fiction are the animations at www.hd-fractals.com showing incomprehensibly minute zoom-ins on pieces of the famous Mandelbrot Set fractal. Go there, right now, and check out any of the "Trip to eNNN" videos. Don't be too embarrassed to skip to the end; some are long. It's not quite a surprise if you know anything about fractals, but...


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