Aidan Dwyer, 13, discovered that tree branches are arranged according to the Fibonacci sequence. Now this has been known since the Eighteenth Century, but Aidan arrived at that conclusion through his own observations. He speculated that trees evolved into this pattern because it presents an efficient means of acquiring solar energy. If so, could he built an efficient solar energy collector in the same pattern? The answer was a definite 'yes', and his efforts have led to a new type of solar power collector:
First he determined the ratios representing the spiral pattern of the leaves and branches on an oak tree, using a cylindrical double-protractor tool of his own design. Then he copied the pattern using a computer program, and built an oak tree-shaped solar array out of PVC pipe. He next built a flat-panel array mounted at 45 degrees, like a typical home rooftop array, and attached data loggers to each model to monitor voltage.[...]
He determined the tree’s Fibonacci pattern allowed some solar panels to collect sunlight even if others were in shade, and prevented branches on a tree from shading other branches.
http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-08/13-year-old-designs-breakthrough-solar-array-based-fibonacci-sequence | Photos: Young Naturalist Awards
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