Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Last week, Harry Nilsson got mentioned in two different TV shows, showing that the late singer/songwriter has a presence in Toobworld. In that same week, we went from musical to mathematical with two mentions of the Fibonacci sequence.

In 'Criminal Minds', the serial killer who called himself "Professor Rothschilde" (Child of Wroth?) used the Fibonacci numerical sequence in plotting his crimes. And 'Chuck' realized that a paranoid scientist used the Fibonacci sequence in designing the clues to where he hid the encrypted file of FULCRUM agents.

I'm just guessing here, but I think it was the use of the Fibonacci sequence in "The DaVinci Code" that led to it being well-known enough to be used in both instances. (That book could also have inspired the name of one of the original characters from 'Prison Break': Otto Fibonacci.)

So, here's a little background on the Fibonacci sequence, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Leonardo of Pisa (c. 1170 – c. 1250), also known as Leonardo Pisano, Leonardo Bonacci, Leonardo Fibonacci, or, most commonly, simply Fibonacci, was an Italian mathematician, considered by some "the most talented mathematician of the Middle Ages".

Fibonacci is best known to the modern world for:

1] The spreading of the Hindu-Arabic numeral system in Europe, primarily through the publication in the early 13th century of his "Book of Calculation", the "Liber Abaci".

A number sequence named after him known as the Fibonacci numbers, which he did not discover but used as an example in the "Liber Abaci".

In the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, each number (after the first two) is the sum of the previous two numbers. Thus the sequence begins 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, etc.

Each ratio between adjacent numbers in the sequence is the best rational approximation to the irrational golden ratio that can be expressed without using numbers at least as high as the next number in the sequence; for example, of all ratios between integers smaller than 8, none comes nearer to the golden ratio than 5/3.

I hope you understood all of that. I'm an oddity - er, an auditor, and all that math makes my noggin hurt.

Toby O'B

1 comment:

Andy said...

I learned about the Fibonacci sequence when I was a kid from watching "Mathnet" on the PBS show, "Square One."