Importance of Biodiversity

How are Fibonacci numbers expressed in humans?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. Fibonacci was born Leonardo Pisano in 1175 in Pisa, better known for its leaning tower. Little did the town's citizens know late in the 12th century that one of their own would become famous for a mathematical sequence that even our human DNA follows today. The Fibonacci sequence, so named by France's Edouard Lucan in the 1870s, explains mathematical recurrence. Fibonacci derived it while pondering how many pairs of rabbits a single "couple" could produce in a year, once the couple's offspring reproduced and so on, and so on. The Italian mathematician was more interested in solving his rabbit reproduction question than in the mathematical equation, but beginning in the 1960s, mathematicians began to truly appreciate and apply the sequence in nature.

    Mathematicians have shown how Fibonacci numbers relate to plants, for example, and to the number of growing points plants have. Much like the rabbits in Fibonacci's initial experiment, plants have to grow a shoot or branch for a length of time before being able to sprout new branches [source: Golden]. Fibonacci followers say that the numbers of petals on many flowering plants match Fibonacci numbers.

    The human physical form also highlights many examples of Fibonacci numbers, including one, two, three and five. For example, you have one head and two ears as well as two eyes and one mouth. You have one nose and two nostrils. You have two arms and each has three sections -- upper arm, lower arm and hand. You have two hands with five fingers on each. It's possibly coincidence, but some say that even some of our proportions make our human forms like the golden ratio, which is the ratio between successive numbers in the Fibonacci series. This has led to golden shapes in nature, such as the spiral of a shell or the "golden section" that marks an ideal shape for the human face. Human DNA molecules also are said to follow the Fibonacci sequence and to fit within the shape of a golden decagon [source: World Mysteries]. This means that like Fibonacci's rabbits, human DNA has symmetry and to some extent a predictability in how it sequences.

    

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