The Golden Spiral in Nature

Just because numbers can be applied to something doesn’t imply that there is necessarily any connection between them. This is part of what makes the Golden Spiral so special, it appears often enough in nature to prove that it a reflection of deeper patterns. There are many theories out there about what this actually means, but none are so persuasive to be convincing. What is unarguable however, is that these patterns in the world around us are responsible for some of the rich beauty in the natural world.

Aeonium_tabuliforme

First…

The Math

4167028b0716efd2bf7ab401e3e8cdc0

or

981b70c7380db580e0bf8e10d815e006

If that doesn’t make the Golden Spiral any clearer check out this site for an explanation.

When it all works the sequence creates a shape like the one below.

Goldene_Spirale

The size of each segment corresponds to a sequence, if the first two boxes are taken as being size 1, then the next is size 2, then 3, then 8, 13, 21, etc. Each box’s size is the sum of the 2 boxes before it. This is called a Fibonacci Sequence, and lies at the heart of the mathematics of the Golden Spiral.

1+1=2
1+2=3
2+3=5
3+5=8
etc..

If the shape above looks familiar, it is because it is a common spiral growth patter that is seen in some shelled animals such as the nautilus.

Nautilus_Shell

Cross section of a nautilus shell

Pineapples & Pinecones

Once you learn what to look for, the Golden Spiral appears in so many places. There is something about this sequence of numbers that has led nature to evolve ways of taken advantage of its benefits, and we can see these in some common plants all around us.

800px-Pineapples

The spiral patter around the outside of a pineapple is one of its most distinguishing features, and if you count the spirals the total will be a Fibonacci number. Diving the spirals into left and right sequences, will actually total 2 consecutive Fibonacci numbers. The easiest way to see this is to look at a pineapple that has been peeled, here the patter is shown in the way the skin has to gouged out in a right to left spiral pattern.

799px-Pineapple_prepared_01

Pinecones also display a similar pattern when viewing the modified leaves (microsporophylls), that radiate outwards from the center of the bottom of the cone.

800px-Spruce_cone_cow_on_grass

It is also a common feature of a number of flowering plants such at the chamomile flower, and the florets of a sunflower.

FibonacciChamomile

Helianthus_whorl

What does this mean?

The meaning of the Golden Spiral ultimately remains hidden, but humans seem to be almost genetically programmed to respond to to it. Fibonacci numbers, the golden ratio, and the golden spiral, are all concepts associated with Sacred Geometry. Sacred Geometry has its roots in an ancient worldview that God created the universe according to a geometric plan, and accordingly certain numbers have symbolic meaning. Many ancient cultures believed that these numbers were the key to accessing hidden mysteries, and used them extensively in shaping both their cultures and architecture. If the basic patterns of existence are sacred, then in contemplating them a person is contemplating the Great Design. In discovering new forms, patterns, and relationships, new insights can be gained into the mysteries and laws of the universe.

Kepler-solar-system-2

For further reading check out this post on the World Mysteries blog, where there is a fascinating and in-depth article on the Golden Spiral.

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