Why Study Math? – The Fibonacci Sequence and Sex Appeal

Oh, that field of math. Don’t you just love to hate it? Yet you have to admit that when someone explains some of its beauty to you and you get it, you marvel at how amazing a field it actually is.

Such is the case with number sequences and in particular one called the Fibonacci sequence. For those who do not know what a sequence is, it is simply a list of numbers that follow some predefined rule. For example, the sequence 2, 4, 6, 8 is the arithmetic sequence which is defined by multiples of the number 2. The Fibonacci sequence is the following: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13…Do you see the pattern? Well hold on if you don’t; what is more important-or should I say interesting-is could you ever have guessed that this sequence has something to do with sex appeal? Indeed. Read on.

If you were not able to see the pattern within the Fibonacci sequence, it is this: each successive Fibonacci number after the second is obtained by adding the two previous numbers in the sequence. Thus 3 = 1 + 2, 8 = 3 + 5, etc. Aside from the unusual appearance of these numbers within the realms of nature, as for example, such quantities as the number of black and white keys that form an octave on a standard piano are all Fibonacci numbers, and the number of spirals in the florets of a sunflower head are consecutive Fibonacci numbers; the quotient formed by consecutive numbers in this sequence get closer and closer to the golden ratio, and this is approximately 1.618.

Artists, musicians, and classical architects have been fascinated with this famous number, which seems to have a sex appeal all of its own. The ancient Greek sculptor Phidias, who created and oversaw the construction of the Parthenon in Athens, is believed to have used this golden rectangle concept in the facade of this famous architectural feat. Luca Pacioli, one of Da Vinci’s mathematics teachers, aroused great interest in the golden number in his work De Divina Proportione. Da Vinci used this work to bolster his claims that various aspects of the human body incorporated this golden number. For example, Da Vinci showed that the human face had proportions in accordance to the golden ratio. In order to show this, Da Vinci traced out golden rectangles on the face of an average human subject. One could suppose, that the more golden rectangles that could be traced out, the more aesthetically pleasing a person’s face was.

Obviously good looks are associated with an aesthetically appealing face. According to Luca Pacioli and Da Vinci’s propositions, the more closely one’s face adheres to proportions dictated by the golden ratio, the more aesthetically appealing a person is. Gee, now math is connected to sex appeal. How strange and curious this subject is! Yes. Sex appeal and math. You’ve got one, you’ve definitely got the other. All this sexy stuff found within a sequence of numbers that probably was found by some curious chap who decided to add 1 + 1 to get 2, and then said, hmmm, let’s add 2 + 1 to get 3, and so on. Next thing you know, these numbers a popping up all over the place from the piano keyboard to the face of a sunflower to the sex appeal of the human face. Wow, don’t you just love math!