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The Fibonacci Sequence

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 29 November 2007

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Fibonacci Sequence. Named after a 13th century Italian Mathematician, Leonardo of Pisa who was known as Fibonacci, each number in the sequence is created by adding the previous two together. It starts 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 and goes on forever. It may sound like a piece of mathematical arcania but in the 19th century it began to crop up time and again among the structures of the natural world, from the spirals on a pinecone to the petals on a sunflower.

The Fibonacci sequence is also the mathematical first cousin of the Golden Ratio – a number that has haunted human culture for thousands of years. For some, the Golden ratio is the essence of beauty found in the proportions of the Parthenon and the paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci.

With Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford; Jackie Stedall, Junior Research Fellow in History of Mathematics at Queen’s College, Oxford; Ron Knott, Visiting Fellow in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Surrey

  • Further Reading

    Alfred S. Posamentier & Ingmar Lehmann, The Fabulous Fibonacci Numbers (Prometheus Books, Aug 2007)

    Fibonacci's liber abaci: Leonardo Pisano's book of calculation, translated by L E Sigler (Springer, 2003)

    Thomas Koshy, Fibonacci and Lucas numbers with applications (Wiley, 2001)

    Mario Livio, The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the Extraordinary Number of Nature, Art and Beauty (Headline Review, 2003)

    Marcus du Sautoy, Finding Moonshine: A Mathematician's Journey Through Symmetry (due to be published February 2008, 4th Estate)

  • Radio 4 Mathematics Collection

    Radio 4 Mathematics Collection

    Listen to more maths programmes

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