Mathematical Flowers

Genesis 1:12

“And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. “

One of our favorite family vacations when the children were young involved driving across France to the Vendée department on the West coast. This beautiful rural area seemed to us to be home to field after field of bright yellow sunflowers, all nodding their heads in the breeze. The production of sunflower oil, much used as a healthy source of mono-unsaturates, is very important to the area.

The heads of the sunflowers are themselves very interesting and easiest to examine when they have died, just leaving the seeds on the dried head. These seeds form multiple spiral patterns.

If you start counting from any point on the outside of the flower and count the seeds in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions, you will usually come up with pairs of numbers from the famous Fibonacci sequence. For example, your pair of numbers may be 34 and 55.

The Fibonacci sequence starts with two ones. After this, every element is equal to the sum of the two previous elements. Therefore, the sequence is: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144… Of course, sunflowers, being natural, do not always conform exactly to Fibonacci's sequence, but a large study at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England, has shown that, on average, they do conform.

Fibonacci's sequence is found all over the place in nature and is closely related to the Golden Ratio, which we featured in a previous Creation Moment. God is a God of order, and we can make sense of the universe in which He has placed us only because of that order.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the beauty of Your creation and the fact that it can be so interesting when we examine the details beneath the surface. Amen.

Ref: Bohannon, J. (2016), Sunflowers show complex Fibonacci sequences, < https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/sunflowers-showcomplex-fibonacci-sequences >, accessed 5/1/2018. Image: by fir0002, license: GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

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