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Numbers, Nature & Edgar Allan Poe

The 60-year tradition of a mysterious visitor leaving three roses and a half bottle of cognac at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe on his birthday appears to have ended this year—which is sad, because we assume the Poe Toaster is either dead or was busy following Tila Tequila’s nonsense on Twitter and lost track of the days.

Either way, a tragedy.


Poe was the man. So what he walked around the streets of Baltimore in a laudanum haze, chugging absinthe and mumbling to himself? He’s churned out some of the creepiest, mind-teasing tales of all time. Edgar Allan Poe = Rock Star. And while reading William Wilson makes us feel about as warm and fuzzy as a Snapped marathon, Mother Nature can pack quite the mystery herself. So take a swig of Cognac, go a little heavy on the eyeliner and read on. This one’s for you, Eddie.


To anyone who took calculus and lived to talk about it, the thought that math could be found in every nook and cranny of the world may not be the most exciting news—at first. But it’s one of the greatest mysteries of the universe. From the pattern of seeds in a sunflower to the scales of a pineapple to the markings on a penguin, the Fibonacci series of numbers appears everywhere, not only in nature, but in every living thing from a single cell to a grain of wheat.


Put your thinking caps on kids, and we’ll try not to bore you to death. The first two Fibonacci numbers are 0 and 1. Every number after is the sum of the previous two (0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13…). The ratios of these numbers to each other are repeated in the human face, the wings of a butterfly, the proportions of the human body, DNA, seashells and even stock market fluctuations. Take two successive numbers in the series and divide them. As you get to the higher numbers, the ratios get closer and closer to 1.6180339887…the ratio known as Phi, or the Golden Ratio. The ratio of the longest finger bone to the second longest, and the second longest to the third, is usually close to Phi.

“Without mathematics there is no art” —Luca Pacioli


For centuries, many artists and architects have proportioned their work to the Golden Ratio, believing this proportion to be beautiful—the Egyptian pyramids, the Parthenon, and the face of the Mona Lisa.

“[The universe] cannot be read until we have learnt the language…become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language…the letters are triangles, circles…geometrical figures” —Galileo


Scientists say the type of  matter that makes up Earth only makes up 5 percent of everything in the universe—all of which contains some form of 1.6180339887…

“I fear…it is in no manner possible to convey…an adequate idea of that nervous intensity of interest with which, in my case, the powers of meditation busied and buried themselves in the contemplation of even the most ordinary objects of the universe” —Edgar Allan Poe


Happy 446th Birthday William Shakespeare!

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