Sunday, 30 November 2014

Day 29 - Fantastic Fibonacci

Hi all,

Day 29. Apart from nature I love maths and science. I'll soon be going on a family trip to London. When we go we always try to go to the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and Kew Gardens, some of my favourite places and will probably feature in my blog!

I didn't think there was much of a link between nature and maths until I heard about Fibonacci! If you don't know about this guy you're in for a treat. Fibonacci's real name was Leonardo Pisano and he was born in Piza in 1175. The Fibonacci name seems to have come about by accident from later people studying his work and misreading part of his hand written book Liber Abaci ('The book of calculations'), published in 1202 before printing was invented.

When he was young Fibonacci travelled a lot with family and was educated by the 'Moors' an old name for a people or culture in North Africa. Along his travels he learnt a lot of things but came across the modern decimal number system which he found much easier to use than Roman numerals so he used it in his work. A lot of people think he was the reason we now use this number system in Europe.

His biggest discovery, or the thing that he is well known for, is the Fibonacci sequence. This is a natural sequence about growth which he first wrote about in a theory about rabbits and how they would breed in an ideal world.
Fibonacci Spiral

The sequence is very simple really, each number in it is made up by adding the two numbers before it and it goes:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144........

You see this sequence in nature a lot and if you look at the diagram here you see how arranging squares of these sizes you get natural spirals developing. You see this in all sorts of things from flowers, pine cones, snails and all sorts of other things.

It seems its the best way of arranging things to make the best use of space in nature (like seeds in a seed head). The numbers have lots of interesting properties and give when you divide two numbers in the sequence, you get a 'Golden Ratio' which appears in lots of places. There's a BBC radio programme linked below that talks about this a lot.

Some of my pictures here show some natural spirals which result from the Fibonacci sequence.

Here are some links to more information about this fascinating sequence:

BBC Radio - The Fibonacci Sequence

Maths is Fun - Fibonacci Sequence

Plus Magazine - The Life of Numbers of Fibonacci

Hope you enjoyed.


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