Somerset Times

Phi nite was a Phinite Phinomenon

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Somerset Times Edition

Week 5, Term Three, 2018

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2018 has been a very special year for Phi, an important ratio which approximates to 1/6/18. June 1 this year was 1/6/18 but if you like to write your dates the American way, 6 January also comes in at 1/6/18.

It has to be said that this date alignment will not occur for another 100 years so if you did miss it, you could have a long wait. The only other possible way to catch it would be to calculate phi to another decimal place (1.6180), so 16 January 2080 (16/1/80) would also work.

The Somerset Mathematical Society held their own Phi nite to celebrate this remarkable number, known by the popular name of the Golden Ratio. This took place on Phiday, 10 August (which is two x phive), at phive 0 phive.

The evening began with everyone receiving a phree gift, which was phinomenal and is a credit to the philanthropy of the SMS. The SMS captains stamped their mark on the evening like philatelists and introduced the talks, tricks, dancing and even mathematical high phives.

Natalie Mai and Hayeon Byeon started the proceedings with some mathematical magic which certainly impressed the audience. When they explained the maths behind the trick the audience was even more astounded.

James Guy then introduced his own version of Celebrity Phi-ces analysing the faces of the Somerset Maths teachers to see whose features most closely resembled the Golden Ratio. Mr Abdou finished first on 1.641, Mr Turner second on 1.523 with Ms Capper third on 1.517. Mr Wrigley finished last although this decision is still pending an appeal on the grounds that with an aspect ratio of √(-1), he should have judged in the Complex plane.

Zara Smith and Mitchell Hamilton invited audience participation in the popular Phi swatting which is a competition to swat the image which contains phi and then Jason Adams had the whole room on their feet with graph dancing moves, often referred to as Philates.

Mr Turner fired up Geogebra to illustrate the importance of phi for plants to achieve the most efficient packing of seeds in a sunflower to ensure they maximise seed dispersal. He had the audience mesmerized as they watched the seed patterns swirling around and around….and around.

Tiffany Yuen then explained the brachistochrone problem which she studied as part of her Internal Assessment for her Maths IB course. The problem here is to find the curve of fastest descent on a track and this was a problem posed in the 17th Century by Johann Bernoulli. At the time, no-one could solve it for six months but then Newton heard of it and solved it overnight using Calculus. The solution to the problem is a curve known as a cycloid.

Jason Adams then brought the crowd to its feet again with his rendition of High Phives. The greetings ranged from tangential to asymptotic and from sinusoidal to Roman.

Mr Wrigley then gave a lecture on the ‘Life of Phi’ which traced the roots of this mystical number from its first mention by the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid, up to more recent discoveries. After the talk, Anna Georgeson revealed the answers to the quiz from the back of the programme.

The phi reciting competition was run by Victoria and Mia Huang with Kei Naito winning with just 25 digits. Two years ago, Callum Moffat managed 235 digits!

The evening ended in the aftermath with hot phies, phizzy drinks and phibonachos and was best described as a phun philled phi phestival phor phree. By the way, 10 August 2018 also marks the start of a 10 day period of palindromes in the dates, (written in American format): 10 August 2018 was 8/10/18, 11 August 2018 was 8/11/18 and this continues on until 19 August 2018 or 8/19/18. In 2019, palindrome dates will occur again in September.

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