Review of The (Fabulous) Fibonacci Numbers
The (Fabulous) Fibonacci NumbersThe (Fabulous) Fibonacci Numbers
by Alfred S. Posamentier and Ingmar Lehman
Prometheus Press, Amherst, New York: 2007 385 pp.
Most of the time my work gets little more than a passing glance from my family.
When my husband saw my latest assignment, however, he asked whether I could let him read the book before returning it to my editor. Given that my husband had been on the Stuyvesant math team during his high school career, I should have realized that this book on the “(fabulous) Fibonacci numbers” would have piqued his interest.
As someone who had been permitted to avoid math courses once I had struggled my way through trigonometry, I’ll confess that the prospect of reading a book about numbers, no matter how fabulous, was a bit daunting. Making my way through chapters filled with charts and formulae was equally challenging for someone who prefers words to numbers.
And I would suspect that that the general readers the authors say they’re targeting are more those who already have an affinity for numbers, and take genuine pleasure in mathematical problems, rather than math-averse humanities people like myself.
Still, the authors have presented a compelling and well-developed book, and one that might well make converts out of some hard-core math
The Fibonacci Numbers happen to be one of those sequences that, much to the surprise of my family, I actually understand. Who knew that it came about because Leonardo Pisano, a 12th century mathematician from Pisa, Italy, wanted to solve a problem about rabbits and how many offspring a single pair could produce in a year?
There are other intriguing aspects of the Fibonacci Numbers, specifically as they relate to geometry. The ratios of consecutive Fibonacci are related to the “golden ratio,” as well as the perfectly shaped “golden rectangle”, “golden section,” “golden spirals,” “golden triangle”, etc.—reflecting the kind of elegance that delight mathematicians.
Fibonacci Numbers also reveal themselves in the construction of a nautilus seashell, or a snail shell, the petals of flowers, pinecones, vending machines, even the stock market. These numbers also show up in art and architecture, whether it’s in Hadrian’s Arch on the Acropolis, the Cheops Pyramid at Giza, Chartres’ Cathedral, Leonardo da Vinci’s famed “Vitruvian” man, Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” or Georges Seurat’s “Circus Parade”. In music, Chopin Preludes, Mozart’s Piano Sonatas, and Wagner’s Prelude to “Tristan und Isolde” are some of the compositions that are informed by Fibonacci Numbers.
The authors have written an elegant book that enhances their argument that mathematics is “the queen of sciences.”
The author, Alfred Posamentier, Ph.D. is Dean of the School of Education, City College of New York.