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Mystery of golden ratio explained
Date:12/21/2009

DURHAM, N.C. -- The Egyptians supposedly used it to guide the construction the Pyramids. The architecture of ancient Athens is thought to have been based on it. Fictional Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon tried to unravel its mysteries in the novel The Da Vinci Code.

"It" is the golden ratio, a geometric proportion that has been theorized to be the most aesthetically pleasing to the eye and has been the root of countless mysteries over the centuries. Now, a Duke University engineer has found it to be a compelling springboard to unify vision, thought and movement under a single law of nature's design.

Also know the divine proportion, the golden ratio describes a rectangle with a length roughly one and a half times its width. Many artists and architects have fashioned their works around this proportion. For example, the Parthenon in Athens and Leonardo da Vinci's painting Mona Lisa are commonly cited examples of the ratio.

Adrian Bejan, professor of mechanical engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering, thinks he knows why the golden ratio pops up everywhere: the eyes scan an image the fastest when it is shaped as a golden-ratio rectangle.

The natural design that connects vision and cognition is a theory that flowing systems -- from airways in the lungs to the formation of river deltas -- evolve in time so that they flow more and more easily. Bejan termed this the constructal law in 1996, and its latest application appears early online in the International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics.

"When you look atwhat so many people have been drawing and building, you see these proportions everywhere," Bejan said. "It is well known that the eyes take in information more efficiently when they scan side-to-side, as opposed to up and down."

Bejan argues that the world whether it is a human looking at a painting or a gazelle on the open plain scanning the horizon is basically oriented on the
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Contact: Richard Merritt
richard.merritt@duke.edu
919-660-8414
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert  

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