When is the last time you sat down at your desk and really went full-geek on something just because you found it fascinating? No, not because you needed to know it for work or because you wanted to build up your skill set for some future position; I’m talking about full-on burial in a topic for the sheer awesomeness of it all. Much to the detriment of my potential productivity, I do it a lot. I see shiny things all the time and I’m off to the races trying to learn more about them. I recently spent hours writing a bash script to compare the efficiency of storing data as megabytes vs mebibytes. It started when I wanted to better understand the difference between the two and it escalated from there. It wasn’t enough to just read what Wikipedia and the rest of the Interweb had to say. I dove in and spent hours generating data sets and comparing them using my lovely script. Sadly, that script won’t ever do anything else for me. But I sure did have a great time writing it!
More recently for me, it was the Fibonacci sequence. And pine cones. And, of course, glitter glue. I have known what the Fibonacci sequence is for a long time and I have also known about how it appears all over the place in nature for the same amount of time. Nobody, inasmuch as I can tell, ever introduces the Fibonacci sequence to someone without showing the introducee a nautilus shell or some other super-cool spiral-ly thing from nature. It’s fascinating and beautiful, just like math. I’m not a mathmatician, number theorist or anyone else with some uber-affinity for numbers. I’m just a guy who appreciates them and tries to wrap his head around their presence in every aspect of existence.
Anyway, my geeking on Fibonacci had me writing python scripts to generate the sequence (an exercise I gave myself because I am a shamefully weak coder) and scouring the edge of my property’s tree-line in the dark with a flashlight so I could find pine cones for my 9-year old daughter and I to mark Fibonacci spirals with glitter glue. Note: at nine, she thought the Fibonacci spirals were neat but when glitter glue got involved, she was all in. Yes, I literally used shiny things to get her to like math. Now she’s even excited for her next Fib-birthday (you don’t get to have many in life). Her next is 13, mine is 55. What’s yours?
So what did you learn the last time you went full geek? Please share. Maybe you can inspire my next adventure.
Final thought: If you’ve got 15 minutes and want to share in some of the fasciantion of Fibonacci, check out the series of videos that set me off: