|(quoted from The God Equation)|
"A circle is often used as a metaphor for boundaries and enclosures, and indeed, pi was used as shorthand for 'periphery.' With all transcendental numbers, one can't help suspect that there might be a hidden message coded somewhere in the sequence. Like what Carl Sagan suggested in the last chapter of Contact."
"You think there's a steganographic message? Perhaps from God?"
"Well, not the kind of message that you're probably thinking. You can find any sequence of numbers in pi if you look hard enough, even your telephone number. Look here." He types '88888888' in his laptop, and he shows me that his pi program found the sequence appearing at the 46,663,520th decimal place. "The message is more subtle. In effect it's saying, 'There is a pattern somewhere, but you'll just have to look harder.' So it's no surprise that work continues on unlocking the secrets of pi. Funny how the most complex structures can derive from the simplest things. Human beings from single cells, the entire universe from a singularity. Seems a convincing argument against entropy."
He points to the mainsail. "See that pattern printed on the sail's edge?"
I notice a colorful, paisley-like design, swirling toward the center.
"It's called 'Sea Horse Valley' and I generated the image using the simple function z equals z-squared plus c."
"The Mandelbrot set," I say, pronouncing the name in the German-style, not French.
"A microscopic part of it. I sometimes refer to the Lionheart Oil as the Mandel-boat. The entire fractal image was discovered only in the 70's after the introduction of computers. Breathtaking, isn't it? It goes on forever, exhibiting self-symmetry as you increase the magnification. Analogous to the revolutions of the planets or the movement of atomic particles. Check this out." He bares his left forearm. A well-done approximation of the M-set was tattooed using several inks from elbow to wrist, like a Rorschach blob, the disk and cardioid appearing like the head and thorax of a large insect. "Like it? I did it myself."