Most of you will probably have heard of this phrase before – the ‘golden ratio’. This ‘divine proportion’ theory was first concocted of in Ancient Greece, used in Renaissance art, and in many mathematic fields today. It’s a special number approximately equal to 1.68 hidden everywhere – geometry, art, architecture and more. The technical definition is that the golden ratio is where we divide a line into two parts so that the whole length divided by the long part is equal to the long part divided by the short part.
Beauty — Bella Hadid
One fascinating example of the use of golden ratio is our intricate faces. Bella Hadid has been crowned ‘the most beautiful woman’ in the world, due to the golden ratio theory itself. The cosmetic surgeon Julian De Silva used the golden ratio to mathematically calculate how close women are to physical perfection and symmetry, using precise calculations of the different features on one’s face – nose, lips, eyes etc. Bella Hadid boasts a 94.35% of symmetry. A theoretical golden ratio face would have the mouth and nose positioned at golden section so the distance between the eyes and the bottom of the chin. Though there are considerable debates as to whether this is an ethical consideration of beauty, or even an accurate consideration, it’s an application of precise mathematic calculations used in the industry. Personally, I don’t believe that a golden ratio face equates beauty, but it’s an interesting relationship that correlates two seemingly unrelated concepts.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the 7 wonders of the world. The ratio of the slant height of the pyramid to half the base dimension is 1.61804, a number that is scarily close to the Golden Ratio. Considering the pyramids were built roughly from 2550-2490 B.C., it’s mind-boggling how these mathematic truths have persevered throughout society.
Mozart based many of his works, especially his renowned piano sonatas, on the Golden Ratio. How is that even possible, you may ask? The prodigy arranged his piano sonatas so that the number of bars in the development and recapitulation divided by the number of bars in the exposition would equal approximately 1.618, the Golden Ratio. Even if you are confused on the jumble of the music terminology, essentially mathematical precision was used by one of the greatest musical geniuses of our time.
Lastly, the golden ratio is a common number in nature, and the number of petals in many flowers follow the Fibonacci sequence. Oddly Pi appears as each petal is placed at 0.618034 per turn (out of a 360° circle), to allow the best possible exposure to sunlight.
The golden ratio is a fascinatingly complex concept and number. But what I personally find the most enthralling about is, is how it’s entrenched within nature, genetics, and the environment. Humans, throughout different centuries, have been able to extract this nugget of knowledge, and apply it to our own man-made creations. The golden ratio, and maths by extension, is a conduit between nature and the fundamental rules in our human societies.