Math intern Tori and two friends in Center of Math wristbands out in nature. Find out how to get your own at the bottom of the post! |

In the Center of Math's 100

^{th}blog post, let's talk about Monther Earth.
Math and nature go together. Despite the math quote of the week that we posted last
Sunday, I think that math is not a construct of the human mind- it’s always
existed and it always will. This is evidenced all over. Sunflower seeds are
arranged on the flower in a golden spiral, the ratio between your forearm and
hand is the Golden Ratio, objects fall to Earth at (ignoring air resistance) an
exponential rate, and the fractal patterns found on Romanesco broccoli (pictured below with a sunflower) are mesmerizing. In fact, the universe may
even be made of math.

This article hits the nail on the head for me. Paintings, poetry, and music can do a good
job of capturing a natural phenomenon. “But a mathematician could do it with
greater precision and predictive power.” Let’s look at an example that I
mentioned above- Galilieo discovered centuries ago the equation

*d=16t*where distance^{2}*d*(in feet) that an object falls is equal to 16 times the time*t*(in seconds) squared that an object is falling.
A short movie clip could describe
this phenomenon accurately enough- we could for example watch a bowling ball
and tennis ball fall 183 feet to the ground off of the Tower of Pisa, and we
could see that the time it took to reach the Earth is about 3.38 seconds.
However, using the formula given by Galileo, mathematicians don’t need to
actually observe a situation like the one we described. We could drop an object
off the Sears Tower, Angel Falls, or the Burj Khalifa (still ignoring air
resistance) and calculate the time it will take to reach the Earth. Paintings
and poetry can describe nature, but only mathematics can describe an infinite
number of possibilities in nature.

So in honor of Earth Day today, I invite everyone to get
outside in nature! Find a natural fractal, find an example of the golden
spiral, or observe a natural phenomenon that can be accurately described only
with mathematics. If you happen to take a picture, tweet it to @centerofmath
with the hashtag #earthdaymath; we’d love to see what you find.

And, in honor of our 100

^{th}blog post (a nice, round,*natural*number), one of the wristbands from the top image may be yours! We’re giving away 100 of them, one in each of our next 100 personal printed textbook orders. Get yours today!
-Tori

Thanks for such a wonderful post.

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