Slideshow of Stunning (and Whimsical) Fractals, in Honor of Benoit Mandelbrot

The founder of fractal geometry, Benoit Mandelbrot, has died. His work allows us to measure things like clouds, and to make some kick ass art!

The maverick French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot has died of pancreatic cancer at age 85. He will be remembered for creating a new branch of math: fractal geometry. The field allowed us to measure phenomena in nature thought previously off-limits to math, like clouds, and cauliflower.

"Fractals are easy to explain, it's like a romanesco cauliflower, which is to say that each small part of it is exactly the same as the entire cauliflower itself," Catherine Hill, a statistician at the Gustave Roussy Institute, explains to AFP.

More technically, a fractal is a fragmented geometric shape that, when split into parts, each part is roughly a smaller copy of the whole, a property called self-similarity. And it makes some damn wild images when you start injecting color, layers or even candy.

MORE: Here is an amazing fractal art gallery on Flickr.