Fibonacci and The Big Question

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By Annette Francine

The Fibonacci Sequence. Ever heard of it?

It’s a sequence of numbers (1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,…) that recurs in nature; a pattern that gives rise to the architecture of many living — and non-living — bodies.

What is really interesting about the Fibonacci sequence is that its pattern of growth, in some mysterious way, matches the forces controlling growth in a large variety of natural dynamical systems. The most eloquent examples in nature are found in a variety of trees and flowers, generally associated with some kind of spiral structure. For instance, leaves on the stem of a flower, or a branch of a tree, often grow in a helical pattern; spiraling around the branch as new leaves form further out.

This “Fibonacci spiral” consists of a sequence of quarter circles with radii proportional to the Fibonacci numbers. It’s most clearly demonstrated in the arrangement of petals on flowers (picture a daisy), pine cones, seed heads (sunflowers are a good example), cactus spirals, vegetables (take a look at a cauliflower or cabbage), and fruits (pineapple, for one).

Curious, right? Now consider this: cell division, otherwise known as Mitosis. What do we find? The Fibonacci sequence. What governs honey bee populations within a hive? Hey! The Fibonacci sequence. And it doesn’t stop there. This Fibonacci spiral structure can be observed in nautilus and mollusk shells, the nerves of the cornea, the bands of hurricanes/cyclones, and even the spiral arms of galaxies.

Why should this be? What evolutionary advantage is there in arranging structures based on the Fibonacci sequence? And if evolution is the primary culprit, why does the Fibonacci pattern cross biological classifications (plant/animal)? And how/why does it extend beyond the architecture of living entities, otherwise localized here on our planet, to astronomical exhibitions; extending beyond our galaxy and into the far reaches of the universe?

So far, the question remains unanswered. Best guesses have been debunked. Yet, science dismisses the existence of God.

I don’t get it.

*Excerpts from Dan Reich, Department of Mathematics, Temple University [ /~reich/Fib/fibo.html]; Wikipedia;;; and


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