structure in nature

April 02, 2018  •  4 Comments

An episode of NOVA that aired this week on math spurred my thinking on today's blog.  A good chunk of time was spent on the Fibonacci sequence (according to Wikipedia "...every number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding ones"), and how they appear in nature.  1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc.  And that lead me to structure and how even apparent randomness is structured.

One of the primary examples of this type of structure is the Nautilus. Although I have never photographed one of those, the shell shown below from the Philippines is an excellent representation of structure.  Despite the fact that there are twelve segments, my suspicion is that the 13th was broken off at some point.  

shell - tower screw shellshell - tower screw shell


The Fibonacci sequence is vividly apparent in daisy-type flowers but it made me wonder if it also follows in the intermediate layer of bark from a palm tree in southern Arizona, shown here...

palm bark detail 2palm bark detail 2

or in this wonderful agave specimen from the United States Sonoran Desert...


or in bamboo segments from the Napali Coast on Kauai.  Or is part of the formula simply a reflection of growth and available water and nutrients?

Hawaii bamboo 2Hawaii bamboo 2

Nature, in all its elements and mysteries, is awe-inspiring.  That is why so many photographers choose it as their primary source of inspiration.  I hope you are able to get out this week and get up-close and personal with it.

Thanks for the comments on last week's blog, Ingrid, TTT, Steve, Terry, Dianne, Catherine, Wayne, Larry, and Orlando.  Always great to hear from you!

until next Monday,


a passion for the [email protected]


Wayne Gesterfield(non-registered)
Ah yes. And don't forgot all of those fractals in nature. They are everywhere.
Steve Immel(non-registered)
I did not know about the Fibonacci sequence though I knew Pietro quite well. Apparently I slept through his class as I did so many others. You raise a good question. Are these examples the product of the sequence or the random result of enough sun, water and food? Or is each segment of the Tower Screw Shell beyond the first two as big as the previous two segments combined? In sheer volume segment twelve might be big as ten and eleven combined.

Great shots and a thought provoking subject.
Debra Harbaugh(non-registered)
I also have a shell collection! I identified the shell from The Smithsonian Handbook on Shells by S. Peter Dance. It is a Tower Screw Shell. The book says: A tall elegant shell with 30 or more regularly descending, rounded whorls. The outer lip of the rounded aperture is thin, but it is usually complete; the columella is also rounded. The range is: Tropical Indo-Pacific. Occurrence is common, size is 5 1/2 in. (14 cm). And yes, the bottom whorl is probably broken off!
Hope you had a great Easter!
Totally cool? What about the Golden Mean?
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