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3D Fibonacci spiral

3D image of the spiral

University students celebrate Fibonacci Day with World Record Attempt

The Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union MathSoc and the Maths department from the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus have hopefully broken the world record to create the largest Fibonacci spiral during a day of events planned to celebrate the famous Fibonacci sequence.

A Fibonacci spiral is a series of connected quarter-circles drawn inside an array of squares with Fibonacci numbers for dimensions. The squares fit perfectly together because of the nature of the sequence, where the next number is equal to the sum of the two before it. For example: 1, 1, 2, 3...is a Fibonacci sequence. Here, 2 is the sum of the two numbers before it (1+1). Similarly, 3 is the sum of the two numbers before it (1+2) and so on infinitum. The spiral looks like a nautilus sea shell or a hurricane and the sequence frequently arises in nature, for example in DNA, the branching of trees, patterns in flowers or the arrangements of leaves on a stem.

Fibonacci is the popular nickname of Leonardo of Pisa, a 12th century Italian mathematician and Fibonacci Day takes place on 23rd November - or 11/23 when written in mm/dd format – the first four numbers of the sequence. The campus celebrations took place a day earlier on 22nd November, to enable as many students and staff to be involved and tackle the world record attempt together.

The world record attempt took place on the lawns in front of Tremough House. The current record stands at 30m2, and the 50-strong crowd of record breaking hopefuls managed to create a spiral which was 21m x 21m, a whopping 441m2. This is now pending verification from Guinness World Records. A drone was sent up to take photographs of the attempt, which involved everyone holding hands in the shape of the Fibonacci Spiral.

MathSoc also ran a treasure hunt in collaboration with other societies, BeeSoc and EcoSoc starting in the Exchange lecture theatre where both societies gave a 5 minute talk ahead of the hunt. The day finished with a pub quiz in the Stannary Bar from 7-10pm.

President of MathsSoc Charlotte Norridge says, “MathSoc were really excited to be running Fibonacci Day celebrations in collaboration with other societies and clubs as well as the maths department.  You get a very unique experience from studying Maths or any other subject at Penryn as the class sizes are smaller so we have been able to build amazing relationships with other students and get huge amounts of support from the Maths department.

“We have hopefully broken the current world record of 30m2 for the largest Fibonacci Spiral. This is one of 3 big events we are holding this year, the other two being Women in STEM day and Pi Day which will be held in the new year.”

Stuart Townley, Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus added, "Maths is everywhere and perhaps best captured by the ubiquitous Fibonacci sequence that we see around us in nature.

“Celebrating Fibonacci Day provides a fantastic opportunity for our maths students to engage with other disciplines and the wider public, so as to raise awareness of maths and its widespread relevance and appeal.“

Date: 3 December 2019

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