The Parthenon and the Golden Ratio

If I’m being honest, when talking about The Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci Sequence in class the other day, I genuinely had no idea what that was. I’d heard about it before, but I didn’t know anything about it. Naturally, if I don’t know what something is, I automatically pull out my phone and google it. This is what I learned:

The Fibonacci Sequence, which is a recursive sequence of numbers, was introduced to Western Europe in 1202 by Leonardo de Pisa, otherwise known as Fibonacci. He discussed the mathematic sequence in his book, Liber Abaci, in which he explained that in order to find the next term in the sequence, one simply has to add the two preceding terms. This sequence (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89..) was not actually discovered by Fibonacci, but had been discussed in Middle Eastern and Indian mathematics since as early as 1200 BC.

I also researched the Golden Ratio, which is essentially a special number approximately equal to 1.618. The ratio between two successive Fibonacci numbers is close to the Golden Ratio. As the numbers in the sequence get closer, the ratio gets closer to the Golden Ratio; it reaches a limit close to 1.618. The Golden Ratio is often found in areas such as art, mathematics, and architecture.

The ancient Greeks knew about this number and created what is called a Golden Rectangle by using the Golden Ratio. They believed that the Golden Rectangle was the most aesthetically pleasing shape to the human eye. When examining the Parthenon, completed in 483 BC, the Golden Rectangle appears to be found. However, because there are no historical documents that show the orignal plans for the structure, there is much debate as to whether or not the Parthenon is a true representation of the Golden ratio, or if rather, just certain aspects of the Parthenon use the ratio.

To see examples of the Golden Ratio in architecture, go to: http://jwilson.coe.uga.edu/emat6680fa06/hobgood/kate_files/golden%20ratio/gr%20arch.html

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