Why do so many plants form a spiral pattern as they grow? Scientists and mathematicians have been asking this question for hundreds of years. The mathematics department at Smith College created a very informative online exhibit on plant spirals to help people understand this phenomenon.
THE FIBONACCI SPIRAL
In mathematics, the Fibonacci numbers are the numbers in the following sequence: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144,…
The first two numbers in the Fibonacci sequence are 0 and 1, and each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two.
If you trace the squares of a piece of graph paper using the Fibonacci sequence you will create a pattern like this one:
The side of
each square equal the sum of the previous two squares. The squares become progressively larger following the Fibonacci sequence.
Copy this pattern on to a piece of graph paper and continue to add squares, following this sequence until you run out of room.
Next draw a spiral starting at the first number one and getting progressively larger as it arcs through each square. It should grow smoothly and touch two diagonally opposite corners on each square in the sequence.
Congratulations! You have created your very own Fibonacci spiral.
The rectangle that is formed by your Fibonacci sequence is known to mathematicians and artists as the golden rectangle. click here to learn more about the golden rectangle.