For those of you who don’t know, I was born into a family of math people. Serious math people. My dad just retired after 37 years as a professor at the University of Memphis. He led the U.S. Math Olympiad team, including a gold medal-winning team, to at least half a dozen IMO (yep, it’s the Olympics for high school math geeks). I’m sure his curriculum vitae is a tome. I could go on and on, but I won’t. If curiosity gets the better of you, just Google “Cecil Rousseau” and settle in for a good read. At minimum, the first 3 pages were about him. It is bizarre.

My mom would never claim to be a “mathematician”. She did, however, teach math at the university for many years, mostly remedial courses. My sister majored in math, taught high school math, and is now a professor of math education. I was surrounded.

Just imagine my childhood! Dinners dominated by mathematical problems and solutions. The house littered with legal pads full of incomprehensible graphs and numbers. Apparently, my sister sucked all of the mathematical prowess out of the gene pool. I just suck.

Then I drew a sunflower. I was focused on the petals, until Brad mentioned how much he’s always loved the pattern of the seeds. To which I responded, “there’s a pattern to the seeds?”

Once I paid attention, I was enthralled. A double set of spirals going opposite directions. Lovely. The number of seeds in each spiral are adjacent Fibonacci numbers. Magnificent. I had to try to get the pattern right! After searching through books, on the internet and failing miserably at drawing such things free-hand, I finally ended up with this:

Can you see the pattern? This doesn’t really do justice to the real thing, but I tried.

I guess mathematics isn’t so bad. At least the pretty kind.

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