Citizen Science: A future that involves everyone

by ritualofoak

Helianthus whorl.jpg
By L. Shyamal – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

I’m going to start by proselytizing for a moment. I think citizen science is a part of the solution to scientific illiteracy in the 21st century. We live in a world where the institution of science is being quietly degraded from the shadows by the agendas of corporations and the machinations of fools. Vaccines are called into question despite the overwhelming body of evidence that demonstrates their safety and efficacy. There are people, that breathe the same air that I do, that believe the Earth is flat. That the world government has something to gain by lying to the public about the shape of the Earth. I think that part of the reason we have arrived at this point is the division between “Academia” and everyone else. Laypeople often see academics with their heads in the clouds, oblivious to the struggles of the real world. Finding ways to bridge this gap will be fundamental to returning some of these dangerous and foolish ideas to the dominion of madness.

OK. This post is actually about sunflowers.

Researchers in the UK have demonstrated for the first time that sunflowers ( Helianthus annuus ) are capable of producing seed heads with Fibonacci structure and non-Fibonacci structure.

The Fibonacci sequence (1,2,3,5,8,13,21…) is a series of integers of which each number after the second is the sum of the previous two numbers. This sequence is frequently observed in nature, and the cause for this is not yet well understood.

In sunflowers the seed heads have been previously understood to always have Fibonacci structure present, but this research was able to show that this isn’t the case. This was the largest study of its kind at the time of publishing, and the breadth of data collected allowed for this difference to be discovered.

Research Citation: Swinton J, Ochu E, The MSI Turing’s Sunflower Consortium. 2016 Novel Fibonacci and non-Fibonacci structure in the sunflower: results of a citizen science experiment. R. Soc. open sci. 3: 160091.