The Golden Section occurs throughout nature. In fact, the human body is a tapestry of Golden Sections (see Figure 3-9) in everything from outer dimensions to facial arrangement. “Plato, in his Timaeus,” says Peter Tompkins, “went so far as to consider phi, and the resulting Golden Section proportion, the most binding of all mathematical relations, and considered it the key to the physics of the cosmos.” In the sixteenth century, Johannes Kepler, in writing about the Golden, or “Divine Section,” said that it described virtually all of creation and specifically symbolized God’s creation of “like from like.” Man is the divided at the navel into Fibonacci proportions. The statistical average is approximately .618. The ratio holds true separately for men, and separately for women, a fine symbol of the creation of “like from like.” Is all of mankind’s progress also a creation of “like from like?”
The Golden Rectangle
The sides of a Golden Rectangle are in the proportion of 1.618 to 1. To construct a Golden Rectangle, start with a square of 2 units by 2 units and draw a line from the midpoint of one side of the square to one of the corners formed by the opposite side as shown in Figure 3-4.
Triangle EDB is a right-angled triangle. Pythagoras, around 550 B.C., proved that the square of the hypotenuse (X) of a right-angled triangle equals the sum of the squares of the other two sides. In this case, therefore, X2 = 22 + 12, or X2 = 5. The length of the line EB, then, must be the square root of 5. The next step in the construction of a Golden Rectangle is to extend the line CD, making EG equal to the square root of 5, or 2.236, units in length, as shown in Figure 3-5. When completed, the sides of the rectangles are in the proportion of the Golden Ratio, so both the rectangle AFGC and BFGD are Golden Rectangles.
Since the sides of the rectangles are in the proportion of the Golden Ratio, then the rectangles are, by definition, Golden Rectangles.
Works of art have been greatly enhanced with knowledge of the Golden Rectangle. Fascination with its value and use was particularly strong in ancient Egypt and Greece and during the Renaissance, all high points of civilization. Leonardo da Vinci attributed great meaning to the Golden Ratio. He also found it pleasing in its proportions and said, “If a thing does not have the right look, it does not work.” Many of his paintings had the right look because he used the Golden Section to enhance their appeal.
While it has been used consciously and deliberately by artists and architects for their own reasons, the phi proportion apparently does have an effect upon the viewer of forms. Experimenters have determined that people find the .618 proportion aesthetically pleasing. For instance, subjects have been asked to choose one rectangle from a group of different types of rectangles with the average choice generally found to be close to the Golden Rectangle shape. When asked to cross one bar with another in a way they liked best, subjects generally used one to divide the other into the phi proportion. Windows, picture frames, buildings, books and cemetery crosses often approximate Golden Rectangles.
As with the Golden Section, the value of the Golden Rectangle is hardly limited to beauty, but serves function as well. Among numerous examples, the most striking is that the double helix of DNA itself creates precise Golden Sections at regular intervals of its twists (see Figure 3-9).
While the Golden Section and the Golden Rectangle represent static forms of natural and man-made aesthetic beauty and function, the representation of an aesthetically pleasing dynamism, an orderly progression of growth or progress, can be made only by one of the most remarkable forms in the universe, the Golden Spiral.