MATHEMATICS:The study of quantity, form, arrangement, and magnitude; esp.,
the methods and processes for disclosing the properties and relations of quantities and
This is how the all mighty Funk & Wagnals defines
mathematics. This definition is more than accurate but it's very technical and well...quite
honestly it can be a little frightening to the average person. This definition and others like
it not only create mental images of boring problems in a text book, but also cast a veil of
impersonality over the subject. They decieve people into thinking that mathematics is nothing
more than problems in a text book and should only be done to do well in school so they never have
to deal with them again.
Like so many other people I stumbled through the
dark mathematical forest during junior high and high school tripping over every unseen equation
and fell into every thorny word problem. Through out high school I struggled to do well. Once
I began my mathematics studies in college that all changed. I had stumbled upon a field/subject
in mathematics thats philisophical implications were too dificult to ignore. It was the golden
ratio that opened the doors for me.
The golden ratio is also known as the
phi ratio, the sacred cut, the golden mean, and the divine proportion. The verbal
summarization of the definition of the golden ratio (without using numbers) is: the unique ratio
such that the ratio of the whole to the larger portion is the same as the ratio of the larger
portion to the smaller portion. One way to try and explain this is to picture the United States
democracy. Theoretically, the minority is supposed to have just as loud a voice as the
majority in the U.S.; the ratio of the whole to the larger portion is the same as the ratio
of the whole to the smaller portion. Like the mathematical PI, the golden ratio is also
defined by an endless number. The golden ratio is about 1.618033988749894848204586...
(and it goes on further and further). The golden ratio is a Fibonacci ratio. The Fibonacci
sequence was discovered by Leonardo Pisano Fibonacci. This sequence begins with one and one
and then each term that follows equals the sum of the prior two terms (1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,
Ok now that I have the technical jargon out of the way I can begin
with the interesting bits of information.
The golden ratio and the fibonacci
sequence are very ubiquitous numbers. They can be found throughout the universe in macroscopic and
microscopic forms. The golden ratio is found in the spiral arms in daisies, hence the golden spiral,
the chronology of rabbit populations, and in the sequence of leaf patterns as they twist around a branch.
This ratio has also been used in some of man's most remarkable pieces of architecture. With the
deminsions of 101ft. wide and 62ft. high the Parthenon in Athens, Greece is built to satisfy the
golden ratio. The Great Pyramid of Giza is also built to satisfy the golden ratio. The golden ratio
can even be found in the everyday grocery store. A cereal boxes, billboards, and various other
everyday objects satisfy the golden ratio. Psychologists have tested individuals to determine
the rectangles they find most pleasing; the results are those rectangles whose lenth-to-width
ratios are near the golden ratio. Man-made objects are not the only specimens of the golden ratio,
man himself is a fine example of the golden ratio. The human form is created to satisfy this universal
ratio of perfection. The ratio of the navel's height from the head to the distance of the navel's
distance from the floor and the ratio of the navel's distance from the floor and the height of the person
both equal 1.618033988749894848204586... - the golden ratio. The dynamic symmetry of the human face is
another example of the human form's compliance with the golden ratio. One way to really see these examples
concerning the human form is to look at Michelangelo's David. Michelangelo's David is said to
be a perfect man and this is why.
The philisophical implications are difficult
to ignore. Is this nature's formula for perfection? Does this formula unite the universe? Mathematics
is a universal language, it is precise and will almost always provide a correct answer through very
systematic and explicit methods. This isn't some vague number derived from nothing more than
imagination, this is a number that continuously pops up throughout the universe. Although, it does
have some connections with the new age "fad" sweeping across the world and sounds a little like something
you would here at a Scientologist Church, but this is no myth and it isn't a fairy tale.