A 13-year-old boy named Aidan Dwyer has an idea that can vastly improve solar energy technology. His idea is so revolutionary that it might make flat panel solar designs extinct.
Aidan discovered a spiral mathematical formula in trees based on the Fibonacci sequence. When he recognized this design in the placement of tree branches, he began applying the secret knowledge to solar panel designs. His discovery could maximize solar panel sunlight collection in new, efficient ways.
DISCOVERING A PATTERN IN TREE TRUNKS
On a winter hiking trip, Aidan noticed something unique about tree branches. After collecting photographs of various trees, he began to see a pattern among the random display of branches and leaves. Aidan realized that the overall branch pattern of trees resembled a spiral. Furthermore, he found a mathematical pattern behind the spiral of branches. To investigate further, he began building test models.
USING THE FIBONACCI SEQUENCE TO MAXIMIZE SUNLIGHT COLLECTION
Upon investigating, Aidan discovered a pattern based on a number sequence invented by medieval mathematician Fibonacci. Fibonacci discovered a pattern when experimenting with a math puzzle. Through solving a problem about the rate at which rabbits reproduce over time, Fibonacci invented a sequence of numbers. Fibonacci invented a mathematical pattern, starting with zero and one. By adding two numbers to the series together, the new sum became the next number in the sequence. This sequence starts out with the numbers 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and 21.
This Fibonacci sequence and its ratios appear in nature, in many forms of life. According to Aidan, examples of this pattern can be found in the seeds of a sunflower, systems of the human body and even galaxies in space.
Aidan found that tree trunks contain similar patterns based on the Fibonacci sequence.
According to Aidan, “Tree branches follow a Fibonacci formula.” He reports that, in an oak tree, branches are arranged in a two to five sequence. “Five branches spiral around the trunk two times to reach the same starting point on the trunk,” he reports.
The patterns that he found also include the elm tree, which follows a one to two pattern, and the beech tree, which follows a one to three pattern. He found a three to eight pattern in the willow tree and a five to one pattern in the branch arrangement of almond trees.
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