Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Suzanne. Suzanne Wonders, “What is the Fibonacci sequence?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Suzanne!
Let's play a game! We'll show you a series of numbers, and we want you to see if you can find a pattern. Ready? Here we go:
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55…
Do you see the pattern? What will the next number be?
If you think the next number is 89, you're right! You just solved a pattern called the Fibonacci Sequence!
What's the trick to the Fibonacci Sequence? To find the next number in the sequence, just add the two previous numbers! Here's what that looks like:
0 + 1 = 1
1 + 1 = 2
1 + 2 = 3
2 + 3 = 5
... and so on! The Fibonacci Sequence never ends!
The name "Fibonacci Sequence" came from an Italian mathematician. His name was Leonardo Fibonacci, and he traveled the world in the early thirteenth century. During his travels, Fibonacci learned about how other countries practiced math. He was very interested in how people did math in India and the Middle East.
When he came back to Italy, Fibonacci wrote a book titled Liber Abaci. This book was about all the math Fibonacci learned on his travels! Liber Abaci is where modern mathematicians found the Fibonacci Sequence. However, Indian mathematicians knew about the pattern centuries before Fibonacci wrote about it in his book!
You're probably wondering why the Fibonacci Sequence still matters today. It may be ancient, but this special pattern is still useful! Sometimes, we use the Fibonacci Sequence to make predictions. People who work in trade use it to predict changes in the stock market. This helps us know what to expect to happen in the economy! In nature, we can use the Fibonacci Sequence to predict how many honey bees live in a hive. Botanists even use it to predict how many petals will grow on a flower!
The next time you're at the beach, look closely at a seashell! The spiral shapes of some seashells follow the Fibonacci Sequence. Mathematicians call the pattern the Golden Spiral, and they replicate it by drawing a series of connected squares whose areas match the numbers from the Fibonacci Sequence. Seashells are only one place the Golden Spiral shows up in nature. You can also see it in the pattern of seeds on a sunflower, the arrangement of seed pods on a pine cone, and even the shape of galaxies.
Look around you! Can you find any other examples of the Fibonacci Sequence or the Golden Spiral? If you look closely enough, you might just discover a new pattern of your own.