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The Golden Section: Nature’s Greatest Secret

(Wooden Books)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  385 ratings  ·  37 reviews
The Golden Section—otherwise known as phi, the golden mean, or the golden ratio—is one of the most elegant and beautiful rations in the universe.

Defined as a line segment divided into two unequal parts, such that the ratio of the shorter portion to the longer portion is the same as the ratio of the longer portion to the whole, it pops up throughout nature—in water, DNA, th
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published October 17th 2006 by Bloomsbury (first published 2006)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  385 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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Nov 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
If you want a book that stimulates and stretches the brain and imagination, this is one I recommend. You'll delve into what Plato and Da Vinci and others knew about the structure of nature, art, and the universe. This explains the workings of Phi in fibinacci, Lucas, pathagorean, and the indefinite dyad number patterns. The patterns of symmetry and asymmetry are discussed in everything from DNA, leaf structure, planetary orbits, insects, our body, water, music, art, architecture, and more. Howev ...more
Nov 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: eye-candy, math
just requested ILL --> library bought it!

"Wow, let's do that again!" - Donkey from Shrek

Sometimes a book is much better than you thought it could be, and what a wonderful surprise. Only a math geek (like me) would call this rollicking good fun, but even the math-haters would find this lovely, beautiful and eye-opening. You see, math is simply the language of the Universe, and we're all a part of its beauty.
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Scott spoke at the south central retreat of the Theosophical Society in May. Fascinating speaker. First guy who every explained Fibonacci numbers and sacred geometry in a way that made sense.
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very fascinating book from start to finish that explores the occurrence of the golden ratio or section in nature such as in subatomic particles masses as functions of Φ and 1/Φ, in architectural designs from ancient Egypt to ancient Greece to modern-day design/manufacture of common household items like pens, coffee pots, radios, books, tables, and computer screens among others. You will also learn about the presence of Φ and its multiples in the structure of music as composed by Beethoven, Hay ...more
Hunter Ross
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Okay, overall the topic is wonderful/amazing/thought provoking. I became interested in the golden section as it is mentioned in Plato's Republic (which I am re-re-re-reading). As a Pythagorean, Plato was held be oath to never reveal the true mathematical secrets he (and the Pythagoreans) knew. He hints at the golden section but does not go into a lot of detail. Now, on to this book. Most science books explain and re-explain topics to the point I want to scream, "Move on!" This book, however, is ...more
Katarína Gulai
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! But yes, you need to know at least some mathematics to enjoy it this much. What bugged me a bit was that one, some of the applications of the golden section were kind of a stretch, and two, more importantly - I would like to have some proofs to theorems in Appendix 2. Of course some of these I can prove myself and others I'll google but it would be nice to have it right there in the book. ...more
David Gamble
I really enjoyed this overview, especially the appendices, but there was sometimes introduced language that needed defined and wasn't anywhere. A glossary would have been very helpful considering the limited space for defining text. ...more
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
A nice intro to the subject, with very good illustrations.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Extremely interesting, although I’m not going to pretend I understood it.
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Sasha Katzenjammer
Don’t even bother if you major in humanities.
Mar 14, 2014 rated it liked it
a slim work in the wooden books series, the golden section offers a very cursory introduction into the golden ratio, (aka the golden mean or φ, phi) - considering the fibonacci sequence on the way, as well. scott olsen traces the history of the golden ratio, as well as its preponderance throughout nature, science, art, architecture, aesthetics, music, and mathematics.

as with other books in the series, while beautifully illustrated, it is light on actual substance. jacket copy describes the gol
Aug 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Brilliant introduction to The Golden Mean, its application in architecture and discoveries in nature. A mathematician I'm not so the numbers were off-putting at first, but once I did a crude sketch or two myself I was up and running with the program. Truly an amazing phenomenon and I'm fascinated. It gave me a grasp of how minute we are in this vast universe and in the words of Monty Python, "How amazingly unlikely was our birth." Some of the illustration's corresponding reference numbers and le ...more
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, art
Fascinating little book with great illustrations that demonstrate the crossroads where art and science meet. Specific shapes and proportions occur throughout nature, and these have been imitated by the great artists down the ages. I now understand Fibonacci numbers for the first time in my life, and why that series is important. Readers of this book will subsequently look at everything from flowering plants to animal faces to recognize geometrical forms in faces and bodies, and repeating series ...more
Sep 18, 2013 rated it liked it
I believe this is a great book, but I gave it three stars, because I did not understand a lot of it. As much as I love the *concept* of (sacred) geometry, I am confused with the philosophy of the geometry and arithmetic it is based on. I did, however, finally grasp the Fibonacci Sequence....finally! And for that, the read was worth it. The book is highly illustrated with classical and contemporary images of art; they are beautiful to look at, even if the reader cannot fully appreciate the sequen ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arts
inspiration and reference
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I discovered these books at our local science museum's gift shop, and fell in love with them. Each takes a particular mathematical idea and shows how it works, shares the story of its origins, and details the meaning it has had for various cultures through history. The illustrations (all sepia/black and white) are intricate and sufficiently well-designed to draw even a math-fearing reader in, purely for the visual enjoyment factor. I don't have copies of these... yet.
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Loved it! I love math, I love geometry, and I love nature so this book was perfect. It quickly and easily explained the golden mean's appearance in nature,the galaxy and in us.
I did have to do a little bit of research on wiki to fully understand how to compute phi before I could go on with the book, but after that it was a great read.

It totally reinforced the quote, "Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe." by Galileo Galilei.
Adrian Magill
Jun 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A short read, but a very enlightening one. This book combines mysticism and science while quoting people like Plato and Leonardo Da Vinci. It takes a little time to wrap your mind around some of the concepts sometimes, especially if, like me, math troubles you, however the information this book offers is well worth the effort.
May 18, 2011 rated it liked it
The information on the Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Section was fascinating, and the Olsen's presentation was well done. I personally wish he had referenced a few more outside authors than he did, and the New Age nonsense at the end was beyond strange for a fact-book, but overall it was a decent book to look up on the subject. ...more
Mar 10, 2012 rated it liked it
A small book that made me want to know more about math and its applications. I think it is designed to whet the appetite of the curious; by itself the book does not really tell you much. Each two facing pages give an overview about the golden section and its many manifestations, and I thought that was pretty damn cool.

This is a keeper, but now to find some real math books.
Dave Harbert
Dec 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Very interesting though I may need to read it again in the future. The first few pages offered a lot to chew on and I know I didn't fully comprehend the formulas. That's the only reason I gave it 3 stars - which, to be fair could be more my inability to comprehend than the author's ability to explain. The later pages offered examples I could follow fairly well. ...more
Steven Walker
Nov 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
This small book is a fascinating look at the number phi and its influence on mathematics and art. Personally I've always found the notion of a magical number intriguing, and this is about as magical as they get right up there with pi. ...more
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wooden-books
Lovely, illustrated little book that provides a to-the-point introduction to such topics as Phi, Fibonacci Sequence, Phyllotaxis Patters, Lucas Numbers, Spirals, Harmony etc. This book is not difficult to understand despite the mathematical contents.
May 26, 2013 rated it liked it
The Golden Section: Nature's Greatest Secret is a nice but short book that teaches about the mystery of the Phi ratio, means, and proportion. It covers Phi in the human body and human culture and provides Phi equations, Fibonacci and Lucas formulae and many breath-taking illustrations. ...more
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love beauty, and this book--or rather the golden section--would be enjoyed by anyone who is willing to entertain the idea that beauty is not subjective and anyone can create beauty in their home or their appearance simply by understanding the math of it.

Jul 21, 2020 rated it liked it
The book feels like it could've been a top 25 article without losing depth. It covers a lot of ground without providing much insight. It's a functional, if overpriced, reference on the Golden Section. ...more
Nov 30, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction-read
this 'wooden books' series is really great. big ideas, small books. i learned why Pi is one of the most elegant ratios in the universe. ...more
Dec 31, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
It's a pretty book and starts out with simple explanations of the math. Then it goes on to find the golden ration everywhere. Even where it's not. ...more
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Professor of Philosophy & Comparative Religion at Central Florida Community College, Scott first received international acclaim by decoding the geometric mysteries of Plato. His recent book, The Golden Section: Nature's Greatest Secret has received rave reviews, and in 2007 was awarded 1st place for design by the Bookbinders' Guild of New York. A life-long student of the Ancient Wisdom, Scott trai ...more

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