Friday, January 13, 2012

Fibonacci Numbers, Triskaidekaphobia, and the Mayan Calendar

Yesterday, we watched a lecture from "The Joy of Thinking: The Beauty and Power of Classical Mathematical Ideas" on Fibonacci numbers. Fibonacci numbers, or nature’s numbers, are numbers that are created by adding together the two previous numbers in the series starting with 1 and 1: The sum of one and one is two, one plus two is three, two plus three is five, three plus five is eight… The Fibonacci sequence is 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144…

Anyway, the lecture was really interesting and Professor Edward B. Burger, Ph.D., explained how these numbers were revealed in nature. He demonstrated this by counting the seed-spirals of a sunflower, the tiny floret-spirals in the face of the daisy, and the spirals created by the bumps on the exterior of a pineapple and pine cone. Counting the clockwise spirals and then counting the counter-clockwise spirals gave us different numbers, but all of those numbers were Fibonacci numbers.

Vi Hart has a wonderful doodle video, "Doodling in Math: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant [1 of 3]" demonstrating this in a much more entertaining and visual way:

The next lectures in our The Joy of Thinking course will continue on with Fibonacci numbers, the Golden Triangle and the Golden Ratio, so I probably should have waited until we watched those lectures to share this information with you, but I couldn’t resist. The lecture inspired me to look for these patterns in nature, but I was noticing them this morning as I prepared breakfast in my kitchen. As I cut open an apple, I noticed five seed sections that created a five pointed star, and I counted eight sections in the orange, and three seed-sections in a banana. Hey, we are a family of five! I guess we are a Fibonacci family. (Well, we are a household of four now that one has moved away to college, but I will be taking him ONE box of goodies THIS week-end.)

Anyway, the Fibonacci numbers got me thinking of this Friday the thirteenth. I was thinking how silly it would be to suffer from triskaidekaphobia, because not only is the number 13 a beautiful prime and sexy Fibonacci number, but the Mayans believed the number thirteen to be sacred.

This Friday 13th has Fibonacci all over it. Friday is the 5th (work) day of the week, the 13th day of the first (numero uno) month in our calendar year, a year whose digits add up to five… January is the first month of the year after our calendar rolled over to begin the new year, much like the Mayan calendar might simply roll over and start anew on December 12, 2012. End of World in 2012? Maya "Doomsday" Calendar Explained

Do we fear the world will end each New Year ’s Eve?


Richardsbetterhalf said...

Cartoon cracked me up. Hub and I have seen two movies so far about the end of the world as we know it in 2012. Lots of Hollywood types trying to cash in on the Mayans.....

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