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What is the "golden ratio" used for?

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Quick Answer

The golden ratio is often used to provide pleasing composition in art, architecture and design. The Great Pyramid of Giza, the Parthenon and many of the paintings created by Leonardo da Vinci are among the most famous examples of the use of the golden ratio.

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Full Answer

A ratio of approximately 1.618 for the length to width of rectangles has long been thought to be the most pleasing ratio to the eye. The ancient Greeks termed this ratio the golden ratio. In mathematics, the ratio is known as phi and was named after the Greek sculptor Phidias. One of the most famous Greek uses of the ratio is the Parthenon, located in Athens, which has exterior dimensions that create a perfect golden rectangle. The ratio, however, was used long before the Greeks. The Great Pyramid was built long before the rise of the Greeks, and its dimensions also conform to the golden ratio.

Leonardo da Vinci called this ratio the divine proportion, and one of his most famous paintings, the "Mona Lisa," contains several examples of golden rectangles. The golden ratio is also used in his works "An Old Man" and "The Vetruvian Man."

Today, the golden ratio is used in product and logo design to give a sense of balance or harmony. Companies such as Nissan, Toyota and Pepsi have incorporated phi into their logos and product designs.

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