Day 54. Finbonacci

In October 2012 on October 5, 2012 at 9:26 am

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of Here (Australia) winner and Robinson Institute scientist Dr Hannah Brown.

Today I am very excited to present a guest post written by Hannah for Science for Life.365

Recognise this?  It’s Sarah’s Paper Nautilus, or the Fibonacci Spiral, derived from the length of the radius increasing by the Fibonacci sequence (image from here).

Growing up with a teacher as a mother, some interesting lessons were “forced” upon you! When I saw Sarah’s Science for Life.365 post on the Paper Nautilus, it reminded me of one of Mum’s early science lessons, Fibonacci. Turns out his name was actually Leonardo Pisano Bigollo (c. 1170 – c. 1250), but better known as Fibonacci.  He was an Italian Mathematician who wrote the Liber abaci (Book of Calculations or Book of Abacus) in which he introduced the Latin-speaking world to the decimal number system, which we use today. (NB. Late edit: I just realised the dude lived for 80 years – Go Fibby!).  He’s actually probably better known, however, for the simple series of numbers introduced in Liber abaci and later named the Fibonacci numbers in his honour. The series begins with 0 and 1 and then continues by adding the last 2 numbers to get the next: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987,…

It is from these numbers that the golden number/ratio is derived, defined by the ratio of successive terms in the Fibonacci series (1:1.618 or 8/5, 13/8 etc.). The higher the numbers, the closer to the golden ratio it becomes. Known for being aesthetically pleasing, the golden ratio is found all over nature, from the Paper Nautilus to the numbers of sides on a banana (it’s 5 if you are wondering) or the number of petals on a daisy (most commonly 34 or 55) – oh, and the reason it’s so rare to find a four-leaved clover, but so common to find one with three or five!

(image source)

And if they’d lived in the same time, would the two Leonardo’s (Fibonacci and Da Vinci that is) high-fived over this masterpiece, thought to be so appealing due to the Fibonacci Spiral?

(image source)

Turns out, it’s also aesthetically pleasing to the web design of our fave social networking sites:

(note from Ed: I suspect Hannah made this image herself – what a scientist!)

Originally used for solving a mathematical rabbit breeding problem, and forever represented in nature, it’s hard to argue Fibonacci wasn’t Fabulous, right?

It’s the little science lessons you learn every day that have the greatest impact! This early science lesson from my Mum is one that has gone on to be one of the most memorable!

  1. In the early days of television the format was 4:3 which was considered aesthetically pleasing. My father who worked for NBC in the old days used to balk when widescreen 16:9 came out. He said “I don’t need to watch it in the next room”.
    That format (4:3) is called the golden rectangle.

  2. Thanks for the comment Paul. Wonder why they chose 16:9?

  3. […] Day 54. Fibonacci (guest post by Dr Hannah Brown) […]

  4. […] For example, the Romanesco Cauliflower (as shown above) is a highly attractive pale green vegetable with its inflorescence approximating natural fractals, and the number of spirals reflecting the Fibonacchi ratio. […]

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