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The "Golden Ratio." Mathematically Explains Beauty.
"Truth is Beauty; Beauty Truth..."Click thumbnail to view full-size
Kids - Don't Forget Your Sums!
Good Looks Subjective? Bah! It's All 2 Plus 2.
Kids about to sit their exams might seriously consider there are few fields of life or human endeavour that excludes the application of mathematics. Not only do we use math every day going about our ordinary lives, man’s greatest triumphs like conquering the globe and landing on the moon could never have been accomplished without starting with 1 plus 1, (equals 2, should any of today’s youngsters be counting on their fingers!). More prosaically, today’s OAP’s would be lost without calculating to the last red cent what they can spend today in Safeway or Tesco; state pensioners in Britain will be dying of malnutrition soon if some administration doesn’t allot them a living wage instead of allowing sociopathic bankers and the thieving establishment to steal it all.
Long has groaned-on the argument of whether beauty is determined in the eye of the observer - is subjective - or whether there are classical, objective parameters which determine attractiveness. There is no doubt there are many factors when assessing what makes a person of the opposite - or indeed the same - sex appealing to us while another leaves us disinterested or even repelled. But sticking to the purely physical - as in a lovely painting - mathematicians tell us there is a formula - a ratio - that apparently applies to all objects in nature, outside and in, such as a beautiful man or woman, a flower, butterfly or tree, that shows certain measurements common to all, most of us find compelling. And it can be taken further to explain all we find lovely in architecture and other man-made structures as well. Among many others, Michelangelo is said to have been guided by this magical calculation - the Golden Ratio - in his magisterial works “David,” and his design of the temples.
The Golden Ratio is based on the long understood Fibonacci Numbers ratio. Those who passed their “A” levels may remember that this ratio depends on each number in a sequence consisting of the sum of the two previous numbers, hence: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89, and so on. I won’t list the equivalent fractions which lead up to the golden ratio as it might put you off or become boring, suffice it to show that it is this number - phi=1.618033 recurring, and the fractions that lead to its conclusion, that act as a template to explain beauty, and to create it in a myriad ways.
Perhaps an easy way to explain the principles of the golden ratio, or golden section as it is sometimes called, is to merely say it describes the common, most practical and pleasing, ratio of the smaller quantities of anything to the larger, or whole. This phenomenon, and the often complex formulaic explanations that describe, it has been the subject of debate for at least 2,500 years and is common knowledge to mathematicians, architects, painters and rocket scientists who have consciously or unconsciously been guided by its principles in much of their work.
Architects tell us they see the Ratio in the pleasing dimensions of the Acropolis and the Parthenon as well as the Great Mosque of Kairouan and many other religious buildings…in fact, the ratio is so common here it is sometimes referred to as the Divine Ratio.
The Ratio can also explain classical beauty, according to its adherents: Among male film stars, Clint Eastwood has often been said as possessing the face with the best and most regular measurements and those which fit into the Ratio’s parameters perfectly. Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly have often been quoted as possessing two of the most desirable faces of all time. It is often argues that this is subjective, but if that were true, Ma and Pa Kettle would have just as many raving over their winsomeness. There is no doubt that there are faces and bodies which appeal to the majority - many more than their contemporaries - all can be explained by this ratio of the smaller parts to the whole (see pic).
Evolutionists tell us attraction for a man by a woman is based on his physical strength and size; confidence, and, today, in his ability to perform well socially and in the acquisition department - because this type is more likely to be a good defender and provider of her children. (The once premium attractions of tooth and fang have been replaced in the modern male by the appeal of the ruthless business tyro, whereas the desirable qualities of the female have remained mainly the same). For a man, a good breeder is the number one choice: a healthy body, wide hips for child bearing, good breasts for feeding kids, and a healthy, vibrant expression. We translate all this into meaning beauty, while the Golden Ratio describes the ideal mathematically, showing that the most desired partners are those with the correct distribution of smaller parts in ratio to the whole.
Anatomists say the whole complexity of bones, nerves, the circulation system and body shape agrees with the Ratio. Biologists point out that so do the blueprints for veins, leaves and the dimensions of plants. There’s a reason, apparently, why we gaze at the mighty oak, the spreading chestnut (and chest!); the seductive willow and the beauty of rose and orchid. As well as the color and scent, it’s the aesthetic proportions that appeal to us. No wonder so much money is spent on plastic surgery!