Monday, 23 November 2015

30 days in November 23...

Today is:

Fibonacci Day

Numbers, numbers, numbers, numbers. At school, I was never very good with them, times-tables and all that shit. At senior school I hated maths lessons, couldn’t do calculus and never passed my O level maths. I’m better these days, after a lifetime of dealing with them, I even passed my GCSE equivalent with top marks. I ‘get’ numbers now and I can see how the universe is just a string of numbers put together by numerical sequences.

Today we celebrate the Fibonacci sequence - a sequence of numbers where each number is the sum of the previous two. It might sound like the title to a Dan Brown novel but the sequence is hidden in the most common things around us: in plants, animals, the stars, computer language, even the human body.

It was first identified by Italian mathematician Leonardo Bonacci, aka Leonardo of Pisa, popularly known as Leonardo Fibonacci - hence the Fibonacci connection (which could be Dan Brown’s follow up to the Fibonacci sequence).

Fibonacci was a clever guy; in his book Liber acaci, Fibonacci posed this puzzle: if there are a pair of newly born rabbits - male and female - in a field and if they are able to produce another pair of rabbits in their second month of life, how many pairs of rabbits will be there after a year? Well you do the maths, but my guess is an awful lot.

Apart from asking deep meaningful questions about rabbits Fibonacci, born in 1170 in Pisa, was also responsible for making the Hindu-Arabic numerals the norm in Europe, explained the use of zero, provided ways to convert between currencies and different measurements, and described how to calculate interest - a bit of a know-it-all banker then.

Looking at the sequence in nature you could be forgiven for erroneously seeing the hand of God in the orderly way it progresses. Many people like to see God in nature and use this as a reason to prove his existence.

Personally I can’t understand why, out of the chaos came order and nature makes things orderly in order to make them work; and when I say nature I simply mean the natural order of things not some imagined supernatural being. It’s a cellular arrangement thing, a numerical sequence, a pattern and I think that we should leave the hand of God firmly where it belongs: on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.


  1. Tim Preston on FB
    But Andy, surely the Fibonacci sequence and the development of the eye must be proof of the existence of God. Or Mr Plod as I am now going to call him. Only the conscious mind of some superbeing could have come up with such amazingly useful things grin emoticon

    1. Howard Sidlow
      I don't get it I'm afraid - a glance at a text book provides an explanation of the origins of everything around us. That it was all crafted for us by an invisible friend in the sky, unfortunately for our species, is the preferred option for most people. That's not to say that believing that nobody ever dies is not a better way for an individual to live, it probably is, but human society pays a colossal price for it.

    2. Andrew Height
      Sadly for you Tim no. All it proves is that you want to believe that there is a supreme being when there is not. The universe is made from numbers, order is provided by numbers as is chaos. Sorry and all that but there is nothing mystical about it.