Washington: The golden ratio is believed to have guided Egyptians in the construction of the Pyramids and Athenians to erect their imposing architecture.It has even found echoes in The Da Vinci Code, where Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon tried to unravel its mysteries.
Golden ratio is a geometric proportion that has been theorised to be the most aesthetically pleasing to the eye and has been the root of countless mysteries over the centuries.
Now, a Duke University engineer has found it to be a compelling springboard to unify vision, thought and movement under a single law of nature`s design.
Adrian Bejan, professor of mechanical engineering at Duke, thinks he knows why the golden ratio pops up everywhere: the eyes scan an image the fastest when it is shaped as a golden-ratio rectangle.
Also know the divine proportion, the golden ratio describes a rectangle with a length roughly one and a half times its width.
Many artists and architects have fashioned their works around this proportion. For example, the Parthenon in Athens and Leonardo da Vinci`s painting Mona Lisa are commonly cited examples of the ratio.
The natural design that connects vision and cognition is a theory that flowing systems -- from airways in the lungs to the formation of river deltas -- evolve in time so that they flow more and more easily.
`When you look at what so many people have been drawing and building, you see these proportions everywhere,` Bejan said. `It is well known that the eyes take in information more efficiently when they scan side-to-side, as opposed to up and down.`
Bejan argues that the world - whether it is a human looking at a painting or a gazelle on the open plain scanning the horizon - is basically oriented on the horizontal.
For the gazelle, danger primarily comes from the sides or from behind, not from above or below, so their scope of vision evolved to go side-to-side. As vision developed, he argues, the animals got `smarter` by seeing better and moving faster and more safely.
`As animals developed organs for vision, they minimised the danger from ahead and the sides,` Bejan said.
For Bejan, vision and cognition evolved together and are one and the same design as locomotion, says a Duke release.
Bejan termed this the constructal law in 1996, and its latest application appears early online in the International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics.
First Published: Tuesday, December 22, 2009, 14:05