College Success Reading Sample Test: Question 1 of 5

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Fibonacci's Numbers

The next time you pick up a daisy or a seashell, look at it closely. You will see a spiral pattern beginning in the center of the daisy or the shell. This same pattern is found often in nature.
The spiral pattern can be represented by a series of numbers called the Fibonacci sequence. You might see this pattern in the number of seeds in each circle of the daisy center, for example. You can also see the same pattern in the way branches grow on a tree or in the covering of a pineapple. This series of numbers begins as follows: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 . . . . Can you figure out the pattern? Each number in the series is equal to the sum of the two numbers before it (2 + 3 = 5, 3 + 5 = 8, and so on). Fibonacci was the person who discovered this number pattern.
Leonardo Fibonacci was born in Italy in about 1180 and lived until 1250. His father worked in North Africa and thought it would be helpful for his son to learn about numbers so he could become a successful merchant. Fibonacci learned more than how to add and subtract.
Fibonacci (whose name means "blockhead" in Italian) became very interested in mathematics. From North Africa he brought the idea of zero back to Europe. He also brought Arabic numerals. These are the numbers you write every day. They replaced Roman numerals, which are much harder to use in computation. Fibonacci also found a math formula for the "Golden Mean," which is a rule for making things that are a certain height and width. Architects use the Golden Mean in planning buildings. The ancient Greeks used it to design temples that are still standing today.
Fibonacci did many more useful things in math. Surveyors and other people who measure land use ideas from Fibonacci. He created math puzzles that people like to solve today. Many of his ideas are difficult for most people to understand. Still, Fibonacci's contributions to math helped make everyone's lives easier.

According to this selection, Fibonacci's name means

  • zero.
  • seashell.
  • spiral.
  • blockhead.

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