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Wooden Books

The Golden Section: Nature’s Greatest Secret

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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, the proportions of fish and butterflies, and the number of teeth we possess—as well as in art and architecture, music, philosophy, science, and mathematics.

Beautifully illustrated, The Golden Section tells the story of this remarkable construct and its wide-ranging impact on civilization and the natural world.

64 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2006

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About the author

Scott Olsen

11 books6 followers
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 trained with physicist David Bohm, world religion expert Huston Smith, sacred geometer Keith Critchlow, and esotericist Douglas Baker. Today he lectures widely on the Perennial Philosophy, with emphasis on the Divine Proportion and transformative states of consciousness.

from http://www.ouroborostrust.org/scottol...

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5 stars
153 (35%)
4 stars
162 (37%)
3 stars
79 (18%)
2 stars
27 (6%)
1 star
6 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 41 reviews
Profile Image for Sally.
1,244 reviews37 followers
July 30, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Jenette.
254 reviews
November 28, 2010
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. However, I think the author does go a little overboard with the "golden ratio" and tries to force it into natural occurrences where I do not believe this ratio occurs or exists.
Profile Image for Rebeka.
105 reviews1 follower
January 29, 2015
Το πιο μικρό και περιεκτικό βιβλίο που έχω διαβάσει μέχρι τώρα (και ομολογουμένως έχουν περάσει πολλά από τα χέρια μου). Ένα βιβλίο που μπορεί να πείσει τον καθένα πως ο κόσμος μας είναι γεμάτος με Μαθηματικά περίεργα και αξιοθαύμαστα, μαθηματικοί τύποι και σχήματα που μπορούμε να παρατηρήσουμε από ένα πίνακα ζωγραφικής, το κομπιουτεράκι μας, ένα τραπουλόχαρτο, ένα στυλό μέχρι και ένα πακέτο τσιγάρα.
Απίστευτο και όμως αληθινό, μπορεί τα Μαθηματικά να μην χρησιμοποιούνται στην καθημερινή ζωή και τις συναλλαγές μας όμως βρίσκονται παντού γύρω μας και ομορφαίνουν τον κόσμο!!!
Το συστήνω ανεπιφύλακτα σε όλους !!!
Profile Image for Devora.
6 reviews1 follower
June 27, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Christian.
50 reviews2 followers
December 1, 2018
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, Haydn, Chopin, Schubert, and Mozart among others.

I really like the following quote from the book:

"In the Platonic tradition, the intention was to lift the soul out of the realm of mere opinion (doxa), by attunement with the ratios and proportions contained in the harmonies and rhythms of music. This allows the soul to pass into the Intelligible realm of knowledge (episteme), moving through the realm of mathematical reasoning (dianoia) up into direct intuition (noesis) of the world of pure Forms, the ratios themselves." (pg. 38)
Profile Image for Hunter Ross.
169 reviews184 followers
April 25, 2019
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 the opposite. I found myself looking up a ton of other information that should have been included in the book to make it complete. The compact size does not help when you have to reread most pages multiple times and look up information (at least I did). Fascinating topic, which it had been twice as long with more description.
Profile Image for Katarína Gulai.
Author 2 books4 followers
February 17, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Ricardo Portella.
148 reviews
July 28, 2021
Life proportion

The author explain the basic of the Golden Section and the various areas where it can be found in nature, architecture, music, planet movements, geometry, etc. A small book to recall us of the classic that was forgotten in today world. The edition (Kindle) is poor with several small annoyances. Buy the print edition if possible.
Profile Image for M C.
23 reviews
November 27, 2017
A nice intro to the subject, with very good illustrations.
Profile Image for James Livermore.
45 reviews
October 31, 2022
Lots of topics, not a ton of detail (unless you are familiar with topics). Lots of extra research required to understand much of it.
Profile Image for jeremy.
1,123 reviews278 followers
August 25, 2016
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 golden section as "the most accessible and appealing guide to the subject ever assembled" - offering 1.6180339887 times more hyperbole than anticipated. for a quick, mostly visual primer on the golden ratio, it's a decent read, but surely not a book that leaves one feeling like they've learned anything of real depth or consequence.

we have come a long way, from a divided line to the essence of consciousness. the stated intention was to provide you with new vision and insight through examination of nature's greatest secret, the golden section, the most simple but profound asymmetric cut. perpetuated throughout the cosmos at all levels, it marries endless variety with ordered proportional symmetry, unifying parts and whole from the large down to the little and back up again in a eurythmic symphony of form.

Profile Image for Sondra.
14 reviews6 followers
August 28, 2014
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 letters were hard to read, and I understand it was a limitation of the format of the book's size, but that's why I gave it 4 rather than 5 stars. But it was an excellent way to ease into the basic concepts of a flawless natural design seen in shells, in the Parthenon, in Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings. . . The examples are endless.
Profile Image for Tomas.
39 reviews
May 25, 2015
Že aká Nádhera! Zlatý Rez, jedným šmahom vedený rovno cez krk Svätého Fibonačiho.
Alebo aj inými slovami - Predražený, Mysteriózny, Špiriťuálne zlataný nárez, skrz-naskrz cez geometrickú, numerickú aj harmonickú prdel Všehomíra. Au!

Budha říkal "tělo je oko". Ve stavu kvantové koherence vyvolané přítomnosti Φ (čítaj fí, asi že podľa pôvodného fí-ha) je možné zažít samádhí, vědomou kosmickou identifikaci s vědomím samého vesmíru.
A právě v tom spočíva ono záhadné tajemství přírody. Zlatý řez je vetkán do samé struktury naší existence a poskytuje nám nástroj, jímž múžeme rezhovnovat a naládovat se na stále šírší úrovně vlastní identity a poznávat sebe sama na stezce návratu k Jednomu ... šak oné, vieš čo ...
127 reviews
August 17, 2015
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 of leaves, branches, petals, etc. in nature. The concept of proportion is addressed as well, and why some artistic compositions grab the eyes, and others do not. This is a gem of a book.
Profile Image for Jason Baldauf.
187 reviews8 followers
November 20, 2022
A logical sequel to Wooden Book's Sacred Geometry. I recommend both books as a wonderful introduction into the subject. Phi, ratio, mean, Fibonacci sequence, Lucas numbers are all covered before discussing it's appearance in nature.
Profile Image for Laurie.
137 reviews2 followers
September 26, 2013
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 sequencing of the golden ratio.
Profile Image for Liz.
18 reviews17 followers
September 25, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Keli.
12 reviews1 follower
August 8, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Adrian Magill.
Author 1 book
June 22, 2010
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.
Profile Image for Rebekah.
15 reviews27 followers
May 19, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Andy.
110 reviews
March 10, 2012
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.
42 reviews
February 19, 2015
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.
39 reviews5 followers
November 4, 2008
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.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 41 reviews

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