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Fibonacci Spirals Are Everywhere
Fibonacci or Logarithmic Spiral in Cone Shell
Credit & Copyright: Dr. Bruce G.
seems to be everywhere in nature! It's the Fibonacci spiral, a pattern
that follows the Fibonacci sequence of numbers: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13...
where the next number is simply the sum of the previous two numbers.
This sequence may account for the apparent "self-similarity" of patterns found in many phenomena in nature -- like the logarithmic spiral of land snails (such as shown in the zoom animation at right shown at 10x, 60x, and 200x), the spiral of ancient nautilus shells, the patterns of reproduction of rabbits, and even patterns of hurricanes and galaxies.
"Self-similarity" refers to how many patterns in nature seem the same whether zoomed in or out, and was a major revelation when Mandelbrot's "fractal geometry of nature" was first applied to describing natural phenomena. In fact, it has been discovered that fractals hide Fibonocci numbers!
The simplest form of self-similarity in nature seems to be from the Fibonacci spiral, which occurs as an organism grows such that its proportions remain constant.
Fibonacci spirals really everywhere? I appreciate some rather pointed
emails from Donald Simanek challenging this idea. He has posted an interesting
essay suggesting that many (or most) instances of Fibonacci spirals are
specious interpretations of other patterns.
Next week's picture: Life on the Ice
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