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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing NumberThe Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number by Mario Livio
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, I was expecting something a bit more exciting because of my natural love for Phi, simply because, you know... SPIRALS are EVERYWHERE, Dude.

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.

However, I did take umbrage against some of the side explanations early on for why ancient or apparently unsophisticated tribes didn't have numbers that counted past four. I mean, sheesh, if we went purely by the mystical importance that the Pythagoreans placed upon the first couple of numbers, we might also believe they couldn't count past five. It's a mistake of the first order, taking a little bit of data and coming to enormous conclusions based on our own prejudices.

That's my problem, I suppose, and he does at least bring up the option that the ancient peoples might have been working on a base four mathematical system, but for me, it was too little, too late. I cultivated a little patience, waiting until we get further along the mathematical histories past the Greeks and into the Hindus and the Arabics where it got a lot more interesting, and then firmly into known territory with the Rennaisance.

Most interesting, but also rather sparse, was the Elliot wave and the modern applications of Phi. I wish we had spent a lot more time on that, honestly.

But as for the rest, giving us a piecemeal exploration of Phi in history, art, and math, this does its job rather well.

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