## golden ratio

A commonly held belief about medieval Europe is that academic pursuits had fallen into a dark age. The majority of scholars were churchmen, and their enquiry often related to some principle of church practice. But is there a value to respecting the tenacity of historic mathematicians?

Dan Brown in his book, *The Da Vinci Code*, talks about the "divine proportion" as having a "fundamental role in nature". Brown's ideas are not completely without foundation, as the proportion crops up in the mathematics used to describe the formation of natural structures like snail's shells and plants, and even in Alan Turing's work on animal coats. But Dan Brown does not talk about mathematics, he talks about a number. What is so special about this number?

**Lewis Dartnell**explains, our brains have evolved to take pleasure in rhythm, structure and pattern. Since these topics are fundamentally mathematical, it should be no surprise that mathematical methods can illuminate our aesthetic sense.

**Chris Budd**and

**Chris Sangwin**tell us, in 2003 the good old quadratic equation, which we all learned about in school, reached these dizzy pinnacles of fame.

**Golden Ratio**, and ever since people have been fascinated by its extraordinary properties. Find out if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and how the Golden Ratio crosses from mathematics to the arts.

**Keith Moffatt**tells us about three of the posters from the series.

**John D. Barrow**explains.