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Tim HuttonTim Hutton - 2012-01-27 09:17:16+0000 - Updated: 2012-01-27 09:17:16+0000
Originally shared by John BaezVi Hart has finished her series on why Fibonacci numbers and Lucas numbers show up in sunflowers, pine cones, and other spirally plants. It makes more sense if you watch the first two parts:

Doodling in Math: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant [1 of 3]
Doodling in Math Class: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant [2 of 3]

The good thing is she doesn't sink into mystical explanations of how plants do it: "We could try observing them. That would be, like, science." And she discusses different theories of how it works. Her punchline: "This is why science and mathematics are so much fun: you discover things that seem impossible to be true and then get to figure out why it's impossible for them not to be." Note how her tone of voice changes when she says this - that's one reason people like her.

For the oil drop model she mentions, see:

S. Douaday and Y. Couder, Phyllotaxis as a dynamical self organizing process, J. Theor. Biol. 178 (1996), 144-163.

For a good review of work up to 1997, try this:

A history of the study of phyllotaxis, I. Adler, D. Barabe and R. V. Jean, Annals of Botany 80 (1997). 231-244.

Thanks to +Min Ro for pointing out this video!

Part 1: Part 2:

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