I was the worst ever student at trying to get my head around maths at school. Seriously. It still does my head in. But, I have learned that in order to get on in life, maths rudimentaries at least are an essential life skill. When I grew up I even got quicker at adding up darts scores in my head than the fellas desperately punching in numbers into the calculator. Go me!
Interestingly, I have also acquired a sense of awe and respect for what maths shows us about – well, us, nature, the universe and everything in it.
“To see a world in a grain of sand.
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand.
And eternity in an hour.”
William Blake could well be talking about fractals in this poem.
Simply put, a fractal is a self repeating pattern where, if you keep zooming in, you always see the same pattern. Mathematically, like Buzz LightYear, you can go on to infinity and beyond.
Which leads me nicely into the Fibonacci sequence.
The Fibonacci Sequence is the series of numbers: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 … The next number is found by adding up the two numbers before it – ad infinitum.
And here is another interesting mathematical surprise. When we take any two successive (one after the other) Fibonacci Numbers, their ratio is very close to the Golden Ratio“φ” which is approximately 1.618034…
Fibonacci sequences appear in nature: the branching in trees, arrangement of leaves on a stem, the fruitlets of a pineapple, the flowering of an artichoke, an uncurling fern, the arrangement of a pine cone, even in the family tree of honeybees.
If you divide the number of female bees by the number of male bees you get 1.618, the golden ratio. This mathematical sequence works for any honeybee hive at any give time. Wow.
Kepler pointed out the presence of the Fibonacci sequence in nature, using it to explain the (golden ratio-related) pentagonal form of some flowers. Field daisies most often have petals in counts of Fibonacci numbers. In 1754, Charles Bonnet discovered that the spiral phyllotaxis of plants were frequently expressed in Fibonacci number series.
Fibonacci’s real name was Leonardo Pisano Bogollo. He lived between 1170 and 1250 in Italy. “Fibonacci” was his nickname, which roughly means “Son of Bonacci”.
As well as being famous for the Fibonacci Sequence, he helped spread Hindu-Arabic Numerals (like our present numbers 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9) through Europe in place of Roman Numerals (I, II, III, IV, V, etc).
The Fibonacci sequencing, I have discovered, is used in music, art, architecture, engineering, genetics, the stock market, gambling. That’s rather mind blowing – and just a little bit awesome.
Creation is full of wonders