I’m working on a short piece about Benoit Mandelbrot for the Times Magazine’s year-end “Lives They Lived” issue, and I came across this
curiosity in his (as he called it) “Scrapbook.”

It’s an item from The Bulletin (Australian weekly magazine now, sadly, defunct) written in February 1990 by Charles Boag. The reporter, in Sydney, observed “a big well-dressed man who looks like a heavyweight boxer with his winnings in property but who turns out to be famous Chaoticist Benoit B. Mandelbrot.”

Mandelbrot was signing a book for another man, who turned out to be Barry Jones, Minister for Science. It was my book Chaos, in which Mandelbrot, of course, plays a leading role. The reporter peeked at what Mandelbrot was writing, and this is what he saw:

All compliments from one of the ‘rats’ whom the author of this book has made run through labyrinths and has observed so expertly.

I guess he had mixed feelings about it.


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