Why Fibonacci Matters by Debra Karplus
Theories by mathematicians typically have applications that are used simply to solve number problems. The Pythagorean Theorem, for example, is widely used by professionals, such as architects and engineers, to find the length of the hypotenuse of a right angle. But, one mathematician stands out for discovering a relationship between numbers that adds a sense of order to the world for living beings and everyday inanimate objects that seemingly appear to be arbitrary in design.
Leonardo of Pisa, more commonly known as Fibonacci, was the mastermind of the Fibonacci sequence, or Fibonacci spiral. An Italian living from 1170 to 1250, Fibonacci discovered a number pattern that existed throughout the universe; he discovered that if the last two numbers of the sequence which starts with zero, are added together, there’s a pattern that is present virtually everywhere. Using the Fibonacci sequence, zero plus one equals one, one plus one equals two, one plus two equals three, two plus three equals five, three plus five equals eight. The sequence continues with thirteen, twenty-one, and to infinity.
In math, this number sequence creates what’s called a perfect rectangle; a square of each number such as five-by-five when added to the rectangle continues to make a rectangle. But, what’s so special about this mathematics sequence is its presence in the natural world. Examine the scales or the leaves of a pineapple, a pinecone, the petals of a rose, or a head of cauliflower; each of these creates a spiral that follows the numbers of the Fibonacci sequence.
Beyond food and plants, the Fibonacci spiral can be observed on the length of the bones of the human hand and other human organs including the lungs. Scientists claim that the planets and the entire galaxy have an inherent order that is explained by the Fibonacci sequence. It is somewhat surprising that despite the universality of Fibonacci’s relationship of numbers Fibonacci is a relatively unknown name to students of mathematics and science.