Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fibonacci Awesome

Sometimes something is so cool you have to post it everywhere, despite it being math.

The day started as such.

In the wee hours of the morning I had a crazy dream.

Completely normal.

But in THIS dream, my mind was running through the numbers of the Fibonacci sequence.

Completely not normal.

I blame it on last night's Super Moon.

Perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system, 6/23/2013
Photo cred to my friend Peter in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Wellington Point, Canon 600D on Skywatcher 4" (102mm)
Maksutov telescope (1300mm focal length) and EQ2 tripod
http://www.astropetes.com.au/

I assure you I have not thought about the words "Fibonacci sequence" (also, known as the Fibonacci series) since I was 16 years old and was briefly introduced to it in high school by one of the greatest math teachers of all time, Mary Rulla.

Mrs. Rulla knows everything about numbers and encouraged me in mathematics even though it must have taken the total patience a woman could possess. She toiled with me for four years.

For four years, I didn't work very hard in her classes and rarely turned in my homework on time at all. Six weeks into my senior year, I dropped out of AP Calculus BC because I was going to fail (see statement: homework) and didn't want it on my transcript for fear it would preclude me from getting into the university of my choice, or any college at all for that matter.

At the age of 16, I had other stuff on my mind: drama, sports, writing, art and music to name a few. Math wasn't really my thing.

Now it's all my thing, and I wish I knew more about math. Mostly because I think it would really help me with physics which is *totally* my new thing, especially particle physics. Valid grand unified theory, here I come!

Except, wait. I have to know math. Darn.

Despite my poor work ethic, Mrs. Rulla still had the heart to enter me in various math competitions all over the state where I actually had a lot of fun and sometimes did well.

Now, to prove that I am a true geek but often confused, my mind was chawing the numbers out incorrectly in my sleep. For example, I vaguely remember a lot of 17+17=34. Which is true. But it is not the Fibonacci sequence.

Rather, the FS looks like this:
0+1=1
     1+1=2
         1+2=3
              2+3=5
                   3+5=8
                        5+8=13
                             8+13=21
This is where it gets exciting!
                                  13+21= (tada!) *34*
Because 34 is my favorite number, and ALSO, I'm 34!!! Seriously! What's the chance!? I won't be the same age as a number in the Fibonacci sequence for another 21 years!
                                         21+34=55
                                                34+55=89
And unless we've designed and mass produced (so I can afford them) cell regenerating nanites by the time I'm that old, 89 is likely to be my last Fibonacci year. Because...
                                                      55+89=144
That's Biblical. And unlikely.

The FS goes on from there. If you haven't caught the pattern yet, you add the second number plus whatever is on the opposite side of the equals sign. Then you do it again and again.

See, in my early years when I was a part of the series, no one told me I should be excited, so I missed celebrating my first 7 in-a-lifetime chances. I had normal non-Fibonacci birthdays instead.

It took a dream to tell me that I'm SO SO lucky to be in a Fibonacci year, RIGHT NOW.

My brain is phenomenal like that. It screws with me sometimes, but mostly I like it.

In my dream I was truly joyful that I *like* 34 and I *AM* 34 and 34 was in the series.

When I dreamed about 34, I woke up with a smile and the word Fibonacci on my lips.

You think I'm kidding. I can tell.

Let me prove it to you. In real life, I wore #34 on my volleyball jersey for 6 years. Despite the randomness of the number, I threw myself a birthday party when I turned 34 last December. In fact, 34 is so my favorite number I'm convinced it has quasi-magical properties and that's clearly half the reason I'm attempting an Ironman this year.

Fibonacci himself, also known as Leonardo Pisano Bigollo (and 4 other names!) was born circa 1170 and died circa 1250. I guess they don't know his exact birth/death dates because how do you track a guy with 6 names?

He's so important to European history for spreading the Hindu-Arabic numeral system through the publication of a book called Liber Abaci that they made a statue of him in Pisa.

Not that that's a big deal. Almost anyone can get a statue of themselves erected in Pisa these days.


Leonardo Bonacci (shhh . . . that's another of his names but he's using it on his "other" passport *wink*wink*) didn't actually discover this important series of numbers but used them as an example in Liber Abaci. So I guess he gets the credit.

The series may have originally been discovered as early as 200 BCE by the ancient mathematician and Sanskrit author Pingala, who -- like Cher -- kept his name simple.

The FS is perfectly excellent because it is often found in nature. And I like nature. And now I like particle physics too which is a small (literally) part of nature that makes up everything that exists.

Although the sequence is stereo-typically compared to nautilus shells while often compared to flowers and occasionally compared to human growth and bone ratios, we're gonna stick to flowers and plants today because I'M 34!!!

Which is how I found these three videos. You should watch them. They are superior.

Also, they have slug cats.

Part 1



Part 2



Part 3



I hope you enjoyed those videos as much as I did!

I'm gonna add this artist/math girl -- the elusive Vihart -- to my list of heroes, along with Florence Nightingale, Mother Theresa, Bob Ross, and Tim Duncan (my heart bleeds for your recent loss, man).

(Ummm... and also for the rest of you whose loss is more... permanent.)

By the way, I'm searching for a good particle physicist to add to my hero list. If you know a potential candidate, please comment below. The quirkier the better.

Please, no quark jokes.

Well, I'm off to do 80 mins of heavy hill climbing on my bike. Wish me luck! After all, if I can't do it when I'm 34, I probably can't do it.