Saturday, November 3, 2012

#Turing proved right by sunflowers


When Alan Turing looked at some sunflowers in his garden in Manchester he thought he saw a pattern he recognised in the spiral of seeds in the flowers' heads - the Fibonacci sequencewhere each number is the sum of the previous two. Turing died before he could test his theory. As part of the celebrations around Turing's centenary hundreds of volunteers grew sunflowers as part of a project led by Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry. Data from 557 sunflowers from seven countries was collected for the Turing's Sunflowers project. It showed 82% of the flowers conformed to the mathematical Fibonacci sequence.
    The BBC reports that Professor Jonathan Swinton, a computational biologist, said: "It's the most comprehensive information we have so far on Fibonacci numbers in sunflowers and we have proved what Alan Turing observed when he looked at a few sunflowers in his own garden in Wilmslow. Now we need to work together with biologists to understand the wider implications of different number patterns for plant growth."