Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Intelligent Design: An MIT professor gives a nod to Fibonacci

I thought of my Dad when this assignment for The Boston Globe Magazine landed on my plate; he's a physicist and an electrical engineer, and an office that's been designed around the Fibonacci numbers is right up his alley.

MIT professor Bruce Tidor's newly updated space is sleek and subtle, with the famed mathematical sequence worked into the way the shelves are placed in the floor-to-ceiling unit along one long wall.
So, what are the Fibonacci numbers? They're a mathematical sequence in which the first number is 0, the second number is 1, and each number that follows is the sum of the two numbers before it; you've seen the sequence in the spacing of the chambers of a nautilus shell, for example. The algorithm is key to computer modeling. Which leads to another question:

Why Use an Algorithm as a Design Element? Tidor uses computer modeling to understand, analyze, predict, and design things in biology (like the structure of molecules in proteins). "I had a lot of ideas about how I wanted the space to be interactive and contemplative," he says, and hoped to bring a theme of mathematics and computer modeling into the office somehow. Somerville architect Paul Lukez stealthily worked the Fibonacci numbers into the design. "There was this huge wall," Lukez says. "How do you give it some sense of scale? How do you make it lyrical in some way? We wanted to create a pattern that could evolve and be integrated into the composition of the wall." ... [More]
You can read the rest at Boston.com, or click on the images below to see how it looked in print.

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