It can be found in a triangle, with each angle equal to 90 degrees, or virtually all squares, diamonds, circles and hexagons. Some intellectuals make a good case for its occurrence in flowers, architecture, snails’ shells, or the markings that resemble eyes on the wings of moths. Of similar viability are the claims that it is present Jessica Simpson, Elizabeth Taylor, Angelina Jolie and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Despite the seemingly odd collection of objects and celebrities mentioned above, there is a universal commonality linking them all: the Golden Ratio, also known as the Golden Mean.
In relatively basic terms, the Golden Ratio, which was officially discovered by mathematician Leonardo da Pisa (Fibonacci) around 1175 A.D., is the numerically sequential ratio that adds the two previously listed numbers together to form the sum that is listed directly after the two factors, starting after the initial figures of 1,1. If the sequence is continued for long enough, one can reach what mathematicians call “phi” or the Golden Ratio, an irrational number similar to pi (about 3.16): roughly 1.6180339887.
For the ancient Greeks, the proportion of phi: 1 was considered aesthetically perfect, and was considered to be the primary standard used in the measurement and creation of various works of art. Today, scholars have confirmed the widespread use of phi in very old architecture constructed by the Grecians – the Parthenon in Athens is one such example.
But how does one find the Golden Ratio in the human figure?
For starters, one should take a look at the famous sketch titled “Proportions of Man” by Leonardo di Vinci. The sketch details the male human body with utmost precision, completely based upon the philosophies of the ancient architect named Vitruvius. Da Vinci was so inspired by the complex concepts originated by Vitruvius that he took it upon himself to identify the exact measurements of man. For example, the ideal distance from the bottom of the man’s chin to the nose should be one-third the length of the entire head, while the height can be directly determined by quadrupling the distance from the elbow to the tip of the hand.
Another tool used to objectively compare individual human beauty to a reliable constant is the Marquardt Mask. Developed by Euclid in 300 B.C., the mask is a face-shaped web of straight lines indicating where such features as the mouth, nose, chin and eyes should begin and end in accordance with Euclid’s perspective of “Golden Proportions.”
While considering the aforementioned cases of genius, it still seems as though answering the virtually ambiguous question of “what is considered truly beautiful” remains solely dictated by the eyes of the beholder.