Beauty Has a Number

Phi, the “Golden Ratio,” seems to be everywhere you look. /

Editor’s note: This article will be more fun if you’ve read Joel’s article on the Fibonacci sequence, which appeared in our last issue.

God has so many attributes and we, his children, have a few favorites that we enjoy focusing on. We describe his majesty, his glory, his loving kindness, his mercy, his grace, his love. But what do we call a Creator who seems to delight in uniting form and function into the same structure? What can we conclude when the processes involved in creation led to something both perfectly practical and breathtakingly beautiful at the same time? And what words might we use to describe a God who likes to use the same number over and over again in his creative work?

In my last article, I looked at Fibonacci sequence, a series that turns up frequently in creation:

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144…

We are going to take successive ratios of these Fibonacci numbers. Start with the first two numbers and divide them, then move to the second and third, then the third and fourth, and so on. For consistency’s sake, let’s round all answers to three decimal places.

1/1 = 1.000

2/1 = 2.000

3/2 = 1.500

5/3 = 1.667

8/5 = 1.600

13/8 = 1.625

21/13 = 1.615

34/21 = 1.619

55/34 = 1.618

89/55 = 1.618

144/89 = 1.618

Do you notice what is happening to the ratio? Follow the development of the answer to each division problem, starting at 1, moving to 2, then 1.5 and all the way to the last three in the sequence. What do you notice? A picture might help:

Rounded to three decimal places, the 9th through 11th quotients are identical, with small variations occurring only after the thousandths place. The quotients start to hone in on approximately the same value after we divide enough Fibonacci numbers. ...

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Also in this Issue

Issue 49 / May 26, 2016
  1. Editor's Note from May 26, 2016

    Issue 49: The spark of human creation, beauty’s golden number, and beholding the bison. /

  2. Let There Be Light at Every Human’s Creation?

    Sadly, no. But biologists have new ways to reveal the unseen. /

  3. Reckoning with the Buffalo

    The American bison’s fragile wildness. /

  4. A Subsequent Lecture

    “You’ll be surprised” /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Issue 49: Links to amazing stuff.

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