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The Golden Angle

Course video 22 of 24

In this week's lectures, we learn about the golden spiral and the Fibonacci spiral. Because of the relationship between the Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio, the Fibonacci spiral eventually converges to the golden spiral. You will recognise the Fibonacci spiral because it is the icon of our course. We next learn about continued fractions. To construct a continued fraction is to construct a sequence of rational numbers that converges to a target irrational number. The golden ratio is the irrational number whose continued fraction converges the slowest. We say that the golden ratio is the irrational number that is the most difficult to approximate by a rational number, or that the golden ratio is the most irrational of the irrational numbers. We then define the golden angle, related to the golden ratio, and use it to model the growth of a sunflower head. Use of the golden angle in the model allows a fine packing of the florets, and results in the unexpected appearance of the Fibonacci numbers in the head of a sunflower.

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