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

Thursday, April 19th, 2006
Throughout history, thinkers from mathematicians to theologians have pondered the mysterious relationship between numbers and the nature of reality.
Dr. Mario

Space Telescope
Science Institute

Dr Mario Livio is a senior astrophysicist and former Head of Science Division at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), the institute which conducts the scientific program of the Hubble Space Telescope.

He received his Ph.D. in theoretical astrophysics from Tel Aviv University in Israel, was a professor in the Physics Dept. of the Technion-Israel Institute of technology from 1981 till 1991, and joined STScI in 1991.

Dr Livio has published over 400 scientific papers and received numerous awards for research, for excellence in teaching, and for his books.

His interests span a broad range of topics in astrophysics, from cosmology to the emergence of intelligent life. Dr Livio has done much fundamental work on the topic of accretion of mass onto black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs, as well as on the formation of black holes and the possibility to extract energy from them.

This curious mathematical relationship, widely known as the "Golden Ratio," was defind by Euclid more than two thousand years ago because of its crucial role in the construction of the pentagram, ro which magical properties had been attributed.

Since then it has shown a propensity to appear in the most astonishing variety of places – from molluck shells, sunflower florets, and the crystals of some materials, to the shape of galaxies containing billions of stars.

Mario Livio tells the tale of a number at the heart of that mystery: phi, or 1.6180339887.

Psychological studies have investigated whether the Golden Raion is the most aesthetically pleasing proportion extant, and it has been asserted that the creators of the Pyramids and the Parthenon employed it.

It is believed to feature in works of art from Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa to Salvador Dali's The Sacrament of the Last Supper, and poets and composers have used it in their works.

It has even been suggested that it is connected to the behavior of the stock marekt!