Mathematical Impressions: The Golden Ratio

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The golden ratio (1.61803 … ) is greatly hyped, partly for its beautiful mathematical properties but also for nonsensical reasons. Distinguishing between the two requires understanding that mathematics is about structures and relationships, not just numbers in isolation. When the golden ratio truly appears (not just some number in its approximate neighborhood), we can find patterns that account for it.

Two good references for properties of the golden ratio are Clement Falbo, “The Golden Ratio: A mmenntrary Viewpoint,” College Mathematics Journal 36, no. 2 (March 2005): 123-134, and George Markowsky, review of The Golden Ratio, by Mario Livio, Notices of the AMS 52, no. 3 (March 2005): 344-347.



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  • Wow- this is a terrific video explaining some of the truly beautiful patterns found in relation to the golden ratio, while debunking some of the common misunderstandings (myths?).

  • I would appreciate input from a historian of science with regard to the origins of the generic misattribution of the Golden Ratio. My own initial impressions of it trace directly to a powerful toon produced, I believe, under the auspices of Disney, surely in collaboration with other institutions, during the Great Depression. This was probably part of a larger series of efforts to connect with the general public. Others explored music, the National Park System, and other social collaborations.

    Was this particular toon the ‘Ground Zero’ of what amounts to a false meme?

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