Which Pipe Organ is Bigger?

One of the properties of fractals is that they contain no information that gives you a sense of scale: little pieces of a fractal look like the whole thing, and in particular, if someone shows you a zoom in to a fractal, you can't tell if they've zoomed in by a factor of 10 or 10 million! Pipe organs may exhibit this property of a fractal: you can't tell how big the organ is looking at the pipes alone; indeed the pipes in the two pictures above seem to be about the same size. But in fact, the organ on the right dwarfs the one on the left, as you can tell if we add some additional information which provides a sense of scale: namely, the organs' keyboards:

Details: These images scanned from "King of Instruments - A History of the Organ", by Bernard Sonnaillon, Rizzoli, NY, 1985. "Fair use" of copyrighted material claimed.

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© 1997-2001 by Chip Ross
Associate Professor of Mathematics
Bates College
Lewiston, ME 04240