Friday, July 15, 2011

Fibonacci series: Do Plants Know Math?

What does math have to do with a walk in the neighborhood and a found object of a pinecone? Have you ever pondered the pinecone with its spiraling pattern of its scales?
Pinecones Display the Fibonacci Series: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21

"Pick up a pinecone and count the spiral rows of scales. You may find eight spirals winding up to the left and 13 spirals winding up to the right, or 13 left and 21 right spirals, or other pairs of numbers. The striking fact is that these pairs of numbers are adjacent numbers in the famous Fibonacci series: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21... Here, each term is the sum of the previous two terms. The phenomenon is well known and called phyllotaxis. Many are the efforts of biologists to understand why pinecones, sunflowers, and many other plants exhibit this remarkable pattern. Organisms do the strangest things, but all these odd things need not reflect selection or historical accident. Some of the best efforts to understand phyllotaxis appeal to a form of self-organization. Paul Green, at Stanford, has argued persuasively that the Fibonacci series is just what one would expects as the simplest self-repeating pattern that can be generated by the particular growth processes in the growing tips of the tissues that form sunflowers, pinecones, and so forth. Like a snowflake and its sixfold symmetry, the pinecone and its phyllotaxis may be part of order for free"
Stuart Kauffman (At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity)

A gallery of photos exhibiting phyllotaxis.

1 comment:

Julie said...

This is something I had never heard of...I will have to do some more research on amazing are things in nature!!! I was in college to become a biologist before diverting and becoming a nurse!!!


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