I’ve been asking the candidates who attended one of NYUAD’s weekend visits to suggest pieces of music to help me globalize my iTunes playlists.

This suggestion, from Nacif Taousse is so cool that I had to give it a post of its own. The YouTube video below explains the ways in which the song “Lateralus” by the progressive heavy metal band Tool draws on the Fibonacci sequence, which my dad the mathematician taught me when I was very young. The Fibonacci is a sequence of numbers in which each term is the sum of the previous two: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55 … The series has some very interesting properties, which you can discover if you click the previous link.

The Wikipedia entry for the song “Lateralus” explains that “the syllables of the lyrics follow the Fibonacci pattern, and the time signature of the chorus rotates between 9/8, 8/8, and 7/8 time, referring to the 17th Fibonacci number, 987. The theme of the song describes the desire of humans to explore and to expand for more knowledge and a deeper understanding of everything. The lyric “spiral out”, which is sung repeatedly throughout the song, refers to this desire and also to the Fibonacci spiral, which is formed by creating and arranging squares for each number in the sequence’s 1,1,2,3,5,8,… pattern, and drawing a curve that connects to two corners of each square. This forms a never-ending and infinitely-expanding spiral.”