Numbers are practical and handy things, very useful for counting and identifying your mailbox and so on. But they can be pretty amazing, too. Take Fibonacci numbers, or the Fibonacci series as they are sometimes called. This is a series of numbers that goes like this: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 …. Have you noticed the pattern?
Each number is the sum of the two previous numbers. One plus zero is one; one plus one is two; two plus one is three; and on you go. I stopped at 21, but the series can go on infinitely.
Okay, so far this is kind of interesting, but not all that amazing. But here’s where it gets weird. This particular sequence of numbers seems to be built into life. It comes up in all kinds of places. If you count the petals of flowers, you will find that many flowers have the same number of petals as one of the numbers in the Fibonacci series (trilliums have three petals; black-eyed Susans have 13; lots of flowers, particularly wildflowers, have five petals). But it’s not just flowers. All sorts of things that spiral follow a Fibonacci pattern. The bracts of pinecones (those pokey parts that look like hard, dry petals) follow a Fibonacci pattern and so do the scales on the outsides of pineapples. The shell of the nautilus, a sea animal, grows in a Fibonacci pattern. No one knows why this pattern keeps popping up again and again in nature, but it sure does. It’s kind of eerie when you think about it, but more than likely it is just a very efficient way to arrange things in spirals. And nature tends to be very efficient. It does make you wonder, though, where Fibonacci patterns may be hiding that we haven’t noticed yet.
As the T-shirt says: Fibonacci. It’s as easy as 1 1 2 3.