Friday, August 19, 2011

13 year old uses Fibonocci sequence to increase solar array efficiency

So, every year the American Museum of Natural History has an award called the Young Naturalist Awards which "is a research-based science competition for students in grades 7-12 to promote participation and communication in science."

The spiral on trees showing the Fibonacci Sequence.
One of this years winners, Aidan, 13 year old from New York, investigated how high latitude trees used the Fibonocci sequence to boost solar collecting efficiency and applied this to the problem of solar array efficiency.  The Fibonocci sequence is 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,... you start with 0 and 1, then add the previous 2 numbers to obtain the next number in the sequence.  Fibonocci initially used it to describe the breeding habits of rabbits.

His essay, The Secret of the Fibonacci Sequence in Trees, is actually a really great read.  I found it extremely inspiring.  Here is this 13 year old kid, just letting his curiosity guide him, investigating how nature has solved a problem and applying it to the problems on mankind.  Brilliant! 
Diagram of tree model that Aidan made with his computer.

It also makes me feel much less worried about the future of the world.  Maybe as adults, we should listen to the kids more often, instead of shooing them off to play video games.  Something to remember as a parent and as a scientist.

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