Pi 1998

Dr. David Finston

Professor Emeritus, NMSU

Pi— Fibonacci numbers, the Golden Ratio and other irrational numbers

The movie Pi mentions Fibonacci numbers, and Dr. Finston speaks about them, their appearance in botany, and how they lead to the golden ratio via continued fractions. Like pi, the golden ratio is irrational, so there is no pattern to the infinite sequence of digits in their decimal representations. This means that one cannot pinpoint their precise locations on a number line. Despite this unknowability, pi and the golden ratio appear in many natural phenomena, some of which he illustrates in familiar examples.

Mesilla Valley Film Society Mesilla, NM

Film Synopsis

A paranoid mathematician searches for a key number that will unlock the universal patterns found in nature.

Max (Sean Gullette) is a genius mathematician who's built a supercomputer at home that provides something that can be understood as a key for understanding all existence. Representatives both from a Hasidic cabalistic sect and high-powered Wall Street firm hear of that secret and attempt to seduce him.

About the Speaker

Dr. David Finston, PhD mathematics, Professor Emeritus, NMSU has been teaching a liberal arts mathematics course for many years and is nearly done with a textbook for such a course. Topics include Personal Finance, Information Surety (How bar codes detect transmission errors), Information Security (How our passwords get encrypted), Mathematics in Medicine (Measures of reliability for medical tests and the vetting of therapies for life threatening diseases), Mathematics in Nature, Art and Architecture (Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio), Staring into the Crystal Ball (Algebraic classification of crystals), What do We Look at When We Look at the World? (Topological classification of surfaces), and Infinities Large and Small and What's Between (different sizes of infinities and fractals).