The Golden Ratio: The Story of PHI, the World's Most Astonishing Number

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Crown/Archetype, Nov 12, 2008 - Mathematics - 304 pages
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Throughout history, thinkers from mathematicians to theologians have pondered the mysterious relationship between numbers and the nature of reality. In this fascinating book, Mario Livio tells the tale of a number at the heart of that mystery: phi, or 1.6180339887...This curious mathematical relationship, widely known as "The Golden Ratio," was discovered by Euclid more than two thousand years ago because of its crucial role in the construction of the pentagram, to which magical properties had been attributed. Since then it has shown a propensity to appear in the most astonishing variety of places, from mollusk shells, sunflower florets, and rose petals to the shape of the galaxy. Psychological studies have investigated whether the Golden Ratio is the most aesthetically pleasing proportion extant, and it has been asserted that the creators of the Pyramids and the Parthenon employed it. It is believed to feature in works of art from Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa to Salvador Dali's The Sacrament of the Last Supper, and poets and composers have used it in their works. It has even been found to be connected to the behavior of the stock market!

The Golden Ratio is a captivating journey through art and architecture, botany and biology, physics and mathematics. It tells the human story of numerous phi-fixated individuals, including the followers of Pythagoras who believed that this proportion revealed the hand of God; astronomer Johannes Kepler, who saw phi as the greatest treasure of geometry; such Renaissance thinkers as mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci of Pisa; and such masters of the modern world as Goethe, Cezanne, Bartok, and physicist Roger Penrose. Wherever his quest for the meaning of phi takes him, Mario Livio reveals the world as a place where order, beauty, and eternal mystery will always coexist.

From the Hardcover edition.

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User Review  - themulhern - LibraryThing

To write a whole book about the number zero requires a good deal of imagination and random association. That does not seem to be the case for the golden ratio. I've only gotten as far as Chapter 5 ... Read full review

Review: The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number

User Review  - Erik - Goodreads

An interesting tour of the history of mathematics through the usage and reference of the golden ratio over time. I learned quite a bit from this book, and the more mathy parts i thought were very good ... Read full review



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About the author (2008)

Mario Livio is head of the Science Division at the Hubble Space Telescope Institute, where he studies a broad range of subjects in astrophysics, particularly the rate of expansion of the universe. He is the author of one previous book, The Accelerating Universe (2000). He is a frequent public lecturer at such venues as the Smithsonian Institution and the Hayden Planetarium. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

From the Hardcover edition.

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