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

by

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 ...more## Get A Copy

Paperback, 294 pages

Published
September 23rd 2003
by Broadway Books
(first published 2002)

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This book shows how many people have read far too much into Phi (1.6180339887 ...) [The Golden Ratio]. The author shows how, Phi is prevalent in nature, but it is not magically so. Phi's prevalence is due simple to the nature ...more

Still, the author does a palatable job of giving me a fairly decent history of mathematics from the focus of the Golden Ratio, the Golden Triangle, the logarithmic spiral, the Fibonacci sequence... all of which is, of course, the same thing, expressed slightly different with a ton of additional cultural significances.

No surprise here. This is Phi.

...more

I'm not a platonist. I don't look at concepts made up by humans and say those describe things humans see so they must have a magical relationship to truth. I actually weirdly assume when people make things up those things should be related to what is true so it is a given they will relate to true things.

there were parts of this ...more

**a/b=(a+b)/a=phi**.

In mathematics, there are many ways to express ...more

YOU: Whoa-whoa-whoa, wait a minute, Woodge... you actually read another book about math. For fun?! Are you for real?

WOODGE: Yeah, you TV Guide-reading eejit! ...more

This book is more numerology. The author creates loose and thin parallels to Phi, then refutes them. This happens repeatedly throughout the book.

The great pyramids might be built based on a ratio similar to phi. Oh, no, maybe not.

Oh, these painting might contain phi built into some of the geometry. Oh, wait, nope. They don't. The artist didn't even know what phi is.

The content makes no sense.

The author goes into lengthy sidebars about art and ...more

Mostly, this book is a history of mathematics. From the etymology of numbers, to the Pythagorean brotherhood, and the discovery of incommensurability, and finally, to modern day mathematics.

The book dispels myths of Phi's use in famous works of art, construction of the pyramids, etc.

I find Livio to be a trustworthy author, who prefers demystification over hyperbole, which I respect. ...more

Do I care? Nope.

I'm not the brainest person on the planet. Actually, I'm not very geeky at all. But I love to learn. I like to spend time analyzing and picking things apart ; dissecting the material and discussing it with someone. However, not everything enchanted me and this book straight up annoyed me.

Essentially, I went into this book expecting to be, I don't know, told about Phi. The discovery, the relevance, the applications and help it provided ...more

The book's strength is that you don't have to be a mathematical minded person to be able to understand it. I could follow the mathematical formulas roughly by the mathematical knowledge I gained more than fifteen years ago, but even though I was persistent enough to try to ...more

PHI 1.6180, not to be confused with PI 1.14159, is considered the Golden Ratio. Discovered by Euclid over two thousand years ago.

The book 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 ...more

I'll admit it's not very catchy, but it ...more

This book is a mathematical utopia.

A must read.

*is*uniquely good at it. Other authors in this genre, such as Amir Aczel can sometimes be guilty of spending too much time on sculpting the biography of a math genre and leaving its concepts severely under-explained. Livio however, created what I felt to be an adequate mix between math teaching an math ...more

When Livio does manage to address phi directly, he does so by ...more

*This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.*

May 15, 2008
Teodora
rated it
it was amazing

Recommends it for:
geeks, wonderers, adventurers, naturalists, stoners, people with patience

Recommended to Teodora by:
ahhhh, math and I go some time back

Between 1 and 2, these pretty whole numbers, lies a number so fascinating that you might be overwhelmed with the beauty of quantifying beauty's perception.

Enter Phi= 1.6180339887....

This humber can explain the difference between the architecture of the Guggenheim as opposed to that of any classical courthouse (picture columns and squares).

The latter are commensurable numbers unlike Phi, which defines rose petal growth, mollusk shell growth, The proportions in Kate Moss's face, and many other ...more

Enter Phi= 1.6180339887....

This humber can explain the difference between the architecture of the Guggenheim as opposed to that of any classical courthouse (picture columns and squares).

The latter are commensurable numbers unlike Phi, which defines rose petal growth, mollusk shell growth, The proportions in Kate Moss's face, and many other ...more

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1 trivia question

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“Our mathematics is the symbolic counterpart of the universe we perceive, and its power has been continuously enhanced by human exploration.”
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4 likes

“Pythagoras was born around 570 B.C. in the island of Samos in the Aegean Sea (off Asia Minor), and he emigrated sometime between 530 and 510 to Croton in the Dorian colony in southern Italy (then known as Magna Graecia). Pythagoras apparently left Samos to escape the stifling tyranny of Polycrates (died ca. 522 B.C.), who established Samian naval supremacy in the Aegean Sea. Perhaps following the advice of his presumed teacher, the mathematician Thales of Miletus, Pythagoras probably lived for some time (as long as twenty-two years, according to some accounts) in Egypt, where he would have learned mathematics, philosophy, and religious themes from the Egyptian priests. After Egypt was overwhelmed by Persian armies, Pythagoras may have been taken to Babylon, together with members of the Egyptian priesthood. There he would have encountered the Mesopotamian mathematical lore. Nevertheless, the Egyptian and Babylonian mathematics would prove insufficient for Pythagoras' inquisitive mind. To both of these peoples, mathematics provided practical tools in the form of "recipes" designed for specific calculations. Pythagoras, on the other hand, was one of the first to grasp numbers as abstract entities that exist in their own right.”
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2 likes

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