Monday, October 18, 2010

Message from Lois Leader, High School Teacher

God is a Mathematician!

Psalm 19: 1-2
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
And the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night declares knowledge.

When I attended the International Baccalaureate conference a few years ago, I found I had a much different experience from some of our faculty members who teach history, Bible or English. Although I was with a group of people with very diverse beliefs, there was an underlying appreciation for the structure of mathematics that seems to be built into the fabric of the universe. It was a point of connection to something beyond all of us that we could share. I didn’t have the sense of being in hostile territory that some of my humanities based colleagues did. Even an agnostic can acknowledge that there are incredible number patterns imbedded in our world.

Pi (3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751....) is built into every circular object in creation no matter how tiny or large. Divide the circumference of the circle by its diameter and you will always get pi. When a raindrop falls into water pi emerges in the spreading rings. Pi can be found in waves and spectra therefore pi occurs in music and colors. Pi has lately turned up in superstrings.

Phi (1.618033988749895... ), pronounced fi like "fly," is an irrational number like pi. DNA has spirals in phi proportions. In the 12th century, Leonardo Fibonacci discovered a simple numerical series that converges to phi. Starting with 0 and 1, each new number in the series is simply the sum of the two before it: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, . . . Fibonacci numbers occur in plant spirals and in stem branching.

The Number e = 2.71828182845904523536... crops up in nature all the time because e is used to make growth models for populations in the real world. So, you could say that nature follows the e-based growth curve.

These numbers are built into the very fabric of the universe and are there for us to discover. The important question that each discoverer needs to ask is, “How did they get there? What does there presence tell me?”

I love the answer to those questions and I enjoy sharing that answer with my students.

1 comment:

  1. Lois,

    Wonderful examples of God's order and His beauty - just waiting for us to discover hidden in His creation. Thank you for being our guide on this little treasure hunt.




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