The Golden Ratio by Mario Livio
The Story of PHI, the World's Most Astonishing Number

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Mario Livio

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Mario Livio is an internationally known astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). He is the author of The Golden Ratio, a highly acclaimed book for which he received the International Pythagoras Prize and the Peano Prize; The Equation That Couldn’t Be Solved; Is God a Mathematician?; and The Accelerating Universe. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
 
Published November 14, 2008 by Broadway Books. 294 pages
Genres: Professional & Technical, Science & Math, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Golden Ratio

Publishers Weekly

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Most readers will have at least dim memories from geometry class of the irrational number pi. Theoretical astrophysicist Livio gives pi's overlooked cousin phi its due with this lively account,

Sep 16 2002 | Read Full Review of The Golden Ratio: The Story o...

AV Club

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The outer reaches of math are home to a slew of mystic numbers, but few share the ethereal weightiness of the Golden Ratio, an object of...

Jan 20 2003 | Read Full Review of The Golden Ratio: The Story o...

Gather Books

Livio discusses several claims about the appearance of the Golden Ratio in da Vinci's works, which basically amount to finding some rectangle bounding a part of a da Vinci painting, measuring its sides, and determining that they are in the Golden Ratio.

Jul 05 2007 | Read Full Review of The Golden Ratio: The Story o...

Daily Kos

I heard a story that on December 8th, 1808 Beethoven premiered and conducted his Sixth - and then introduced yet another symphony - one that he knew would be would go against the conventions and sensibilites of his time - he was a bit of the radical hippie dude of his day - and out tumbled the gr...

Jan 08 2010 | Read Full Review of The Golden Ratio: The Story o...

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