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Nombor Fibonacci in various "family trees" and patterns of spirals of leaves and seeds. Golden section, used by nature in some detail, including animations of growing plants.

Arnab Fibonacci

Leonardo Fibonacci, of Pisa Had a Moorish school teacher who introduced him to the Hindu-Arabic numeration system The original problem that Fibonacci investigated (book Liber Abaci,1202) was about how fast rabbits could breed in ideal circumstances.

Suppose a newly-born pair of rabbits, one male, one female, are put in a field. Rabbits are able to mate at the age of one month so that at the end of its second month a female can produce another pair of rabbits. Suppose that the rabbits never die and that the female always produces one new pair (one male, one female) every month from the second month on. The puzzle that Fibonacci posed was... How many pairs will there be in one year?

At the end of the first month, they mate, but there is still one only 1 pair. At the end of the second month the female produces a new pair, so now there are 2 pairs of rabbits in the field. At the end of the third month, the original female produces a second pair, making 3 pairs in all in the field. At the end of the fourth month, the original female has produced yet another new pair, the female born two months ago produces her first pair also, making 5 pairs.

It seems to imply that brother and sisters mate, which, genetically, leads to problems. We can get round this by saying that the female of each pair mates with any male and produces another pair. Another problem which again is not true to life, is that each birth is of exactly two rabbits, one male and one female.

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987 ..

If we take the ratio of two successive numbers in Fibonacci's series, (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, ..) and we divide each by the number before it, we will find the following series of numbers:

1/

= 1, 2/1 = 2, 3/2 = 15, 5/3 = 1 1666..., 8/5 = 16, 13/8 = 1625, 21/13 = 161538... It is easier to see what is happening if we plot the ratios on a graph:

The ratio seems to be settling down to a particular value, which we call the golden ratio or the golden number. It has a value of approximately 1618034

The Fibonacci Rectangles each new square having a side which is as long as the sum of the latest two square's sides.

The spiral-in-the-squares makes a line from the centre of the spiral increase by a factor of the golden number in each square. So points on the spiral are 1.618 times as far from the centre after a quarter-turn. In a whole turn the points on a radius out from the center are 1.6184 = 6.854 times further out than when the curve last crossed the same radial line.

Petals on flowers

3 petals: lily, iris Often lilies have 6 petals formed from two sets of 3 as shown above: 4 petals Very few plants show 4 petals (or sepals) but some, such as the fuchsia above, do. 4 is not a Fibonacci number! 5 petals: buttercup, wild rose, larkspur, columbine (aquilegia), pinks (shown above) The humble buttercup has been bred into a multipetalled form. 8 petals: delphiniums 13 petals: ragwort, corn marigold, cineraria, some daisies 21 petals: aster, black-eyed susan, chicory 34 petals: plantain, pyrethrum 55, 89 petals: michaelmas daisies, the asteraceae family

Passion flower

Back view: the 3 sepals that protected the bud are outermost, then 5 outer green petals followed by an inner layer of 5 more paler green petals

Front view: the two sets of 5 green petals are outermost, with an array of purple-andwhite stamens (how many?); in the centre are 5 greenish stamens (T-shaped) and uppermost in the centre are 3 deep brown carpels and style branches)

Seed heads

Seed heads

the orange "petals" seem to form spirals curving both to the left and to the right. At the edge of the picture, if you count those spiralling to the right as you go outwards, there are 55 spirals. A little further towards the centre and you can count 34 spirals

So the number of spirals we see, in either direction, is different for larger flower heads than for small. On a large flower head, we see more spirals further out than we do near the centre. The numbers of spirals in each direction are (almost always) neighbouring Fibonacci numbers!

Pine cones

Leaf arrangements

Many plants show the Fibonacci numbers in the arrangements of the leaves around their stems. If we look down on a plant, the leaves are often arranged so that leaves above do not hide leaves below. This means that each gets a good share of the sunlight and catches the most rain to channel down to the roots as it runs down the leaf to the stem.

You will see that the third leaf and fifth leaves are next nearest below our starting leaf but the next nearest below it is the 8th then the 13th. How many turns did it take to reach each leaf? The pattern continues with Fibonacci numbers in each column!

Cauliflower

Note how it is almost a pentagon in outline. Looking carefully, you can see a centre point, where the florets are smallest. Look again, and you will see the florets are organized in spirals around this centre in both directions. How many spirals are there in each direction?

Romanesque Brocolli/Cauliflower Each floret is peaked and is am identical but smaller version of the whole thing and this makes the spirals easy to see. How many spirals are there in each direction?

Chinese leaves and lettuce are similar but there is no proper stem for the leaves. Instead, carefully take off the leaves, from the outermost first, noticing that they overlap and there is usually only one that is the outermost each time. You should be able to find some Fibonacci number connections.

Fibonacci Fingers?

You have ... 2 hands each of which has ... 5 fingers, each of which has ... 3 parts separated by ... 2 knuckles

However, if you measure the lengths of the bones in your finger (best seen by slightly bending the finger) does it look as if the ratio of the longest bone in a finger to the middle bone is Phi? What about the ratio of the middle bone to the shortest bone (at the end of the finger) - Phi again? Can you find any ratios in the lengths of the fingers that looks like Phi? ---or does it look as if it could be any other similar ratio also? Why not measure your friends' hands and gather some statistics?

Throughout history, the ratio for length to width of rectangles of 1.61803 39887 49894 84820 has been considered the most pleasing to the eye. This ratio was named the golden ratio by the Greeks. In the world of mathematics, the numeric value is called "phi", named for the Greek sculptor Phidias. The space between the columns form golden rectangles. There are golden rectangles throughout this structure which is found in Athens, Greece.

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