Disclaimer #1: the WordPress formatting has gone strange and no matter how many times I try, this comes out in all caps. I apologize.
Disclaimer #2: there are those who believe this to be totally hooey. This is because the Golden Ratio, usually simplified to 1.6180, is actually an infinite decimal, like Pi, meaning that it never ends, it extends into infinity. Therefore, some claim, nothing can truly measure up, so to speak, to the Golden Ratio, because said ratio can never be measured.
Now, I am not a mathematician; I am an artist. So my reaction to this argument is to shrug and say, “Meh, close enough.” If that sort of blasé attitude offends your mathy sensibilities, you should probably stop reading now.
The above picture is the simplest example of the Golden Ratio. Two quantities fit the ratio if the larger part, divided by the smaller part is equal to the whole length divided by the larger part. For more detail, try the Math is Fun [https://www.mathsisfun.com/numbers/golden-ratio.html] explanation.
This ratio, (also referred to as PHI and the Divine Proportion) can be found all over the natural world: in honeybee hives, the females outnumber the males by 1.618 to 1. The ratio of each spiral of a chambered Nautilus’ shell is 1.618 to 1. Sunflower seeds grow in opposing spirals –the ratio is the 1.618 to 1; the same is true for the spirals of pinecone petals, rose petals, leaf arrangement on plant stalks, insect segmentation… the list goes on.
Why is this? What does it mean? There is no definite answer. Some say it’s just a simple pattern, and simple patterns often repeat, much like convergent evolution, which is when two distinct species evolve similar traits. For example, bats, birds, and insects all independently developed modes of flight. Others choose to take a more spiritual approach and read deeper meaning into the ratio scribbled across the universe like a creator’s signature. Whatever your view, you cannot deny the wondrous beauty of this simple, repeating pattern.
PHI is stamped all over the human body as well. Da Vinci was one of the first to notice that each segment of fingers between the joints on the human hand matches the ratio. The distance from your wrist to your elbow and from the tip of your middle finger to your wrist: PHI. The distance from middle fingertip to elbow, divided by the distance between elbow to shoulder: PHI. The ratio is all across the human body, not only the arms, but I don’t have time to list them all. This graphic will have to do.
When it comes to measuring beauty in the human face, the more universally attractive a person, the more closely his or her face fits the ratio. The length of the face divided by the width, the length between the lips and the eyebrows and the length of the nose, the length between the distance between the pupils and the distance between the eyes… again, the list goes on. Click here if you want to see how your face measures up.
Even your computer follows the divine proportion. Look down at your keyboard; the distance between the shift key and the Z key and the distance between the shift key and caps lock is PHI.
PHI is found in architecture, logos, and numerous other man-made structures.
Now, all this also ties in with something called the Fibonacci Sequence, but that is a post for next week.