It was recently discovered that the inter-reflections of light between highly reflective spheres is fractal in nature. The work investigates this phenomena through ray tracing using very high levels of recursion; this allows many levels of reflection to be traced. The fractal nature of the inter-reflections means that no matter how much we enlarge parts of the images created by the ray tracing, we always see more and more reflective images of the spheres. These images do not form any regular pattern, but are arranged in seemingly random patterns. By ray tracing spheres of different colours and textures, interesting artistic effects can be achieved. The ray tracing technique is also applied to three dimensional osculatory packings..of spheres. These are three-dimensional arrangements of spheres of different sizes that just touch each other. They are fractal in nature because an osculatory packing can contain an infinite number of spheres in a given region of space with no regularity in the shape or size of the spheres. When the fractal ray tracing technique is applied to these packings we obtain images that contain two types of fractal information: one from the arrangement of the spheres themselves, and one from the inter-reflections.
- KEVIN G. SUFFERN & IAIN SINCLAIR, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia