Math in Nature

Math in Nature

Have you ever looked closely at a sunflower and seen the myriad swirls and spirals that make up the innermost part of the flower? It is fascinating to me to see the intricacies of the design of petals, leaves, fruits or grains; the perfect structure of a human face, a shell, a pyramid, a rose, a hibiscus or a succulent. Is it just happenstance or is there some order to it all?

All the evidence points to a masterful designer that needs no human manufacturing, human engineering or human interference to create something as lovely as a flower. The mastermind at work has created rhythm, harmony, order and patterns in the landscape and indeed in the entire universe and with this comes an identifiable master template that permeates through all things.

The Fibonacci Sequence

From the shape of shells to the organization of our facial features, there is a pattern. This pattern was identified as the Fibonacci sequence.

 According to Wikipedia

“In the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, each number is the sum of the previous two numbers, starting with 0 and 1. Thus the sequence begins 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610 etc.”

If expanding boxes were drawn with these dimensions, and the corners of these boxes were connected, we find that a perfect spiral is formed.





The Spiral

The spiral has been a common occurrence in the natural world for millions of years. The successive chambers of the nautilus are built on the framework of a logarithmic spiral. As the shell grows, the size of the chambers increases, but their shape remains the same. The length of the sides form a Fibonacci series.







 Hurricane Irene – a spiral weather pattern







Plants illustrate the Fibonacci series in the numbers and arrangements of petals, leaves, sections and seeds. Plants that are formed in spirals, such as pinecones, pineapples and sunflowers, illustrate Fibonacci numbers.

Many plants produce new branches in quantities that are based on Fibonacci numbers and unveil the beauty, harmony and balance of nature’s proportions. A sunflower seed illustrates this principal as the number of clockwise spirals is 55 and the number of counterclockwise spirals is 89. Other plants have exhibited the Fibonacci sequence.


Iris = 3 petals,

Primrose = 5 petals,

Ragwort = 13 petals,

Daisy = 34 petals


The Divine Proportion

There is also the phi relationship, 1.618:1, known as the Golden Section, Golden Proportion or the Divine proportion. The Divine Proportion has been attributed to everything around us, from art to nature to music to our bodies to space itself. It has been used by artists, architects, designers, engineers, musicians, photographers and sculptors across the ages. The examples are abundant. The Greeks used it in designing the Parthenon.  Leonardo Da Vinci used it in creating “The Last Supper” and many of his other paintings. It is evident in the cochlea in the inner ear, the skeletons of mammals, the veins of leaves, snowflakes, spiral galaxies, the weather, other Greek architecture, the music of Beethoven, Mozart and Bach and in the Vitruvian Man.


 A perfectly proportioned moth





The Vitruvian Man









The Pyramid of Giza

The ancient civilizations used the divine proportion in their buildings before steel, cement, and cranes were invented.

There are no words that can accurately describe this incredible pyramid. In my visit to Egypt last year, I was in awe of the perfection and massiveness of the structure, so architecturally sound and so rich in spiritual resonance. Researchers have determined that one edge of the Great Pyramid of Giza is 783.3 feet long, the height of the Pyramid is 484.4 feet. The length of one sideline divided by height leads to the ratio 1.618. The height of 484.4 feet corresponds to 5,813 inches (5, 8, 13) from the Fibonacci sequence.


I have a renewed interest in math as I marvel at the wonders of the rich trails and patterns left behind for us by our forefathers. It could indeed fill a lifetime if we were to contemplate the perfection of all that is about us. I invite you to take the time to smell the roses and see with new eyes the magnificence of this place we call earth

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