I am Italian and I like playing with numbers, sometimes in casinos, sometimes not.
November 23 is celebrated as Fibonacci day because when the date is written in the mm/dd format (11/23), the digits in the date form a Fibonacci sequence: 1,1,2,3. A Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers where a number is the sum of the two numbers before it. For example: 1, 1, 2, 3…is a Fibonacci sequence. Here, 2 is the sum of the two numbers before it (1+1). Similarly, 3 is the sum of the two numbers before it (1+2).
The Rabbit Question
The Fibonacci sequence, one of the biggest accomplishments of Leonardo of Pisa came from a simple puzzle about rabbit population. In his book Liber acaci, Fibonacci posed this puzzle: if there are a pair of newly born rabbit – male and female – in the field and if they are able to produce another pair of rabbits in their second month of life, how many pairs of rabbits will be there after a year?
Born in 1170 in Pisa, Italy, Fibonacci was also responsible for making the Hindu-Arabic numerals popular in Europe. In Liber acaci he advocated the use of these numerals, explained the use of zero, provided ways to convert between currencies and different measurements, and described how to calculate interest.
Fibonacci in Nature
One of the beauties of the Fibonacci sequence is that the series is evident all over the natural world. Petal arrangements in flowers, the ordering of leaves in plants, the shell of the nautilus, the DNA molecule and even hurricanes show patterns that correspond to the sequence.
How to Celebrate?
Start the day by learning more about the Fibonacci sequence and its theoretical and practical uses.
A number of fruits and vegetables, like pineapples, romanesco (a cross between broccoli and cauliflower) display the Fibonacci series – incorporate them in your meals to celebrate this mathematical holiday.
Have children in your life? Introduce them to the elegance of math and the importance of learning it to use in real life.
Did You Know…
…that the ratio of two successive numbers in the Fibonacci sequence is very close to the Golden Ratio? The Golden Ratio is approximately equal to 1.6. Objects whose length and breadth exhibit the Golden Ratio are thought to be the most pleasing to the eye.
As if the earlier infographic weren’t enough, I have found an interesting set of quotes from math loving scientists on Pi that may interest you. If not, no hard feelings… I hope.
Why do math lovers around the world call March 14 “Pi Day”? Because Pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, is 3.14. Pi is a Greek letter (π) that represents a constant in math: All circles have the same Pi, regardless of their size. Pi has been calculated out to as many as 1 trillion digits past the decimal, and it can continue forever without repetition or pattern.
In honor of Pi Day, we, the National Institute of General Medical Scientists, asked several biomedical researchers in the field of computational biology to tell us why they love math and how they use it in their research.
Why do you love math?
The computational biologists we talked to offered similar answers. They love math because it lets them see the world in an ordered way. Tamar Schlick of New York University explained, “Math is essentially logic and order combined and applied to solve problems in interesting and creative ways.” Math’s constant rules allow computational biologists to understand and even predict natural phenomena, including biological processes such as cell behavior and biofilm formation. Andre Levchenko of Yale University added, “This predictive power is one of the coolest aspects of math, helping us understand what otherwise may seem paradoxical or impenetrable.”The researchers described exciting findings that math helped them make; here are a few snippets.
What type of math do you use?
The scientists’ toolbox of mathematical approaches extends far beyond the ones we may remember from high school or college. Computational biologists use different types of math and select one or many based on the problem they’re trying to solve. For example, to study the complex, time-dependent processes occurring in our bodies, scientists use a branch of math called nonlinear dynamics. Several of the researchers we interviewed said they’re still discovering mathematical approaches well-suited for biology. Reinhard Laubenbacher of the University of Connecticut Health Center said he’s proud his team “found ways to use areas of math that are not typically viewed as ‘applicable’ in the context of computational biology, such as abstract algebra and algebraic geometry.” Continue reading →