Growth and Patterning

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
3 min read
Fibonacci was here

Fibonacci’s Rabbits

A growth sequence that appears in remarkably manifestations in nature is described by a simple math function called the Fibonacci series. It is beautiful as it is simple.

Every number in the series is the sum of the two numbers preceding it. The series needs to be jump started with 1+1 for the second term in the series and from then on its just adding the two preceding numbers to get the next term.

The mystic cult of Pythagoras was predicated on the belief that number underlay all of nature and its manifestations in the world. All of our science and engineering has proven this to be the case and we have been able to harness sectors of nature to do our bidding. Everything from levers to electricity to computers are based on our insights into the numerical nature of the physical world.

The Fibonacci series creates a growth sequence that spirals outward and describes things as varied as the shape of a nautilus shell, galaxies, the pattern of sunflower seeds, and so many more.

Fibonacci was here

The Fibonacci series is also known as the Golden Ratio.


Why so many shapes form in this way is a beautiful mystery. It is some sort of archetypal design that natural shapes, across huge scale differences from tiny to astronomical, feel compelled to adhere to.

This is poetry, structure, and design combining in an ecstatic dance. It is the order of the universe revealing itself to us but retaining the mystery at its core.

How cool is that?!

The Wabbits

Fibonacci formulated this sequence in the 12th century while thinking about how rabbits multiply. Not the birds and bees part but how the population grows from a singles pair; like Adam and Eve.

To make it simple and abstract he posited that all the rabbits matured in one month and then had a mixed pair of babies and that they never died so they could keep having babies.

Out of this assumption logically fell the beautiful series of growing numbers.

He then saw that the number of adult pairs in a given month is the total of both the adults and babies of the previous month.

He also had the insight that the number of baby pairs in a given month is the number of adult pairs in the prior month.

So the total number of pairs of rabbits in a particular month is the total pairs in the previous two month.

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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