Dalhousie University’s recent Math Circles event was held virtually on the evening of Wednesday, April 27. The topic, Fibonacci numbers, was already familiar to many of us, as this is the sequence of numbers that runs floor to ceiling in the Junior School stairwell. Many students have paused between classes to discover that each number in the infinite sequence is generated by taking the sum of the two preceding terms: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89… but, the numerical pattern is just the beginning! Dr. Danielle Cox and Dr. Karyn McLellan, professors in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Mount Saint Vincent University, presented an engaging and interactive seminar that led participants to discover the relationship between the Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio (phi ~ 1.618), found in art, architecture, music, and nature, to name just a few applications. From counting the petals on a daisy, to numbering the clockwise and counterclockwise spirals on a sunflower seed head, pineapple, or Romanesco broccoli, the Fibonacci numbers emerged! It was interesting to learn biologically that the reason the seeds form the perfect Fibonacci swirl is to optimize space and promote maximum growth. When petals or leaves around a stem are placed at angles of phi, they get the best sun exposure, and this is optimal packing. Fibonacci number inspired music also was explored, and the relationship between the number of beats and the possible number of arrangements…the Fibonacci sequence was discovered by participants. It was an interesting and inspirational presentation.
I commend Amelia Glass ‘27, William Larder ‘26, Anthony Wheeler‘27 and Owen Xu '27 on their contributions and participation and look forward to the last Math Circles opportunity of the year later this month.