Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Golden Ratio

The golden ratio, also known as the divine proportion, the golden mean, or golden section, is a number often encountered though out nature. The Ancient Greeks usually attributed discovery of this concept to Pythagoras or his followers as they discovered the frequency of the ratio’s appearance in the geometry of nature around them.

The golden ratio is an irrational mathematical constant, approximately 1.618, and it is denoted by the Greek letters ф (phi), or sometimes τ (tau)

The Ancient Greeks applied the ratio into their art, music, and architecture.

It has been pondered and debated the basis of its ubiquity and appeal when this ratio is applied into architecture designs, drawing the human face, etc that we unconsciously find the building or the artwork identified as the lines of classical beauty.

One of these early enlighten educators was Plato. Plato started out in the military service from 409 BC to 404 BC during the Peloponnesian War, but at this time he wanted a political career rather than a military one.

It was the excesses of Athenian political life during this time that persuaded him to give up political ambitions. The execution of Socrates in 399 BC because he was teaching what the established political leaders disagreed with and this had a profound effect on Plato. Socrates's death was the cause for Plato to decide that he would have nothing further to do with politics.

Plato's contributions to the theories of education are shown as he started his own Academy and his idea of what constitutes an educated person. Over the door of the Academy was written: "Let no one unversed in geometry enter here."

Plato's Academy flourished until 529 when it was closed down by the Christian Emperor Justinian, who claimed it was a pagan establishment. Having survived for 900 years it is the longest surviving university known until it was closed because the Christian Emperor decided it went against his religious beliefs.

It was not until the Renascence period that the effort to relearn the Ancient Greek's math and sciences but those pursuing this knowledge were aways under threat of death by the Religious Inquisition.

No matter how persistent religious political powers try to squelch educational facts, the truths will always return as being self evident and this ratio is still being discovered universally. The Ancient Greek's math related to our natural world are still be applied today.


  1. Good article.

    One can only wonder how much further man would have advanced by now had not the Church been an obsticle to exploration, discovery and learning.

    I'm guessing we'd be 200-300 years further along had it's power to suppress human knowledge never existed. Imagine knowing today what we will know in the year 2300.


  2. Hello Hump,
    Thank you for visiting my site. You bring up a very profound question for thought. We can only guess where our society would be today had the religious fanatics had not quenched the ancient sciences.

  3. It's a double edged question.
    To deny the neccesity of religion by the primitive human mind as a part of its development and attempt to rationalize its place in the universe is to deny the path of our evolution and nature.
    Yes, the structure of religion has always been about power and social control and the restriction of ideas, but up to a point, it facilitated the framework for the evolution of our consciousness.
    Simply, we evolved, religion didn't.

  4. thamks but can someone help me...
    7. Name 3 pictures of the Golden Ratio in ancient architecture.

  5. We are stardust, Children of the spirals.

  6. So I am new to this and would like to know. Is 1.618 a frequency of some sort as well and if so have we or has anyone tried to hear this frequency or play it. I understand it was also used in music. what kind of music was it used in. and how was it used...