Exciting New Results of Turing’s Sunflower Project #CitizenScience


Alan Turing is well known for his Enigma Code, but lesser known for his fascination with phyllotaxis—patterns found in leaves, stems and seeds. The spiral patterns of seeds on sunflower heads in Turing’s own garden set the stage for his Fibonacci curiosity, and after his death, the University of Manchester continued his work. They invited people to grow sunflowers and to photograph patterns, counting the spirals. This month marks the publication of this important study and Manchester 1824 explains the ramifications of the research.

This experiment enabled the study authors, Professor Jonathan Swinton and Dr Erinma Ochu, to analyse sunflower heads to test the extent to which they follow the Fibonacci rule. The findings back up the work that Turing carried out before his death. However, this citizen science experiment also builds upon his work, as the data submitted by growers reveals other types of patterns in the sunflower spirals that are not Fibonacci.

Whoa! So yes, most were Fibonacci, but the real work now starts in understanding the other renegade spirals. It sounds like the scientists and mathematicians have new exciting ground to cover. What is really wonderful is the way in which the research was carried out; over 500 sunflowers were analyzed, including those from citizen scientists around the world. The team at University of Manchester is encouraging people to check out the white paper and thanking participants for the photos.

If you missed out on this experiment you can always start examining plants yourself. What material would you choose? If you would like to focus on leaves, it can be fun taking some macro photographs with our USB Microscope. Just plug it into your computer and this illuminated camera will allow you to upload some amazing images of nature. It’s got 220X magnification and is the same one used by Lady Ada on the Ask an Engineer show. I’ve got one at home that I’ve used for a cool biosensor project, too, and have been very happy with it. So, consider this little cam for some decent documentation of your next project.


Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Join 35,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Follow Adafruit on Instagram for top secret new products, behinds the scenes and more https://www.instagram.com/adafruit/

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers – CircuitPython.org

Maker Business — How (some) chips get made

Wearables — Need a lot of power for your project? Read on!

Electronics — Storage Safety 101

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: 10K Subscribers, Picos Made in Africa and more!! #CircuitPython @micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Turtle Eggs, Pool Monitors, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — New Products 11/30/22 Featuring Adafruit Feather RP2040! (Video)

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.