The Human Body and the Golden Ratio

The human body is based on Phi and 5.

The human body illustrates the Golden Section or Divine Proportion. We’ll use the golden ratio building blocks developed on the Life page again for each line segment:

Successive Golden Sections of a Line, based on phi, the golden ratio

"The Golden Ruler" a Golden Ratio Measuring Stick based on phi by Gary B. Meisner

Human body showing the Divine proportion, phi or golden ratio throughout its dimensions The Divine Proportion in the Body

  • The white line is the body’s height.
  • The blue line, a golden section of the white line, defines the distance from the head to the finger tips.
  • The yellow line, a golden section of the blue line, defines the distance from the head to the navel and the elbows.
  • The green line, a golden section of the yellow line, defines the distance from the head to the pectorals and inside top of the arms, the width of the shoulders, the length of the forearm and the shin bone.
  • The magenta line, a golden section of the green line, defines the distance from the head to the base of the skull and the width of the abdomen. The sectioned portions of the magenta line determine the position of the nose and the hairline.

Although not shown, the golden section of the magenta line (also the short section of the green line) defines the width of the head and half the width of the chest and the hips.


The Human Body is based on patterns of 5, which is the basis for Phi as well

Another interesting relationship of golden section to the design of the human body is that there are:

  • 5 appendages to the torso, in the arms, leg and head.
  • 5 appendages on each of these, in the fingers and toes
  • 5 openings on the face.
  • 5 sense organs for sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.

The golden section in turn, is also based on 5, as the number phi, or 1.6180339…, is computed using 5’s, as follows:

5 ^ .5 * .5 + .5 = Phi

In this mathematical construction “5 ^ .5″ means “5 raised to the 1/2 power,” which is the square root of 5, which is then multiplied by .5 and to which .5 is then added.

Comments

  1. Tony says

    My recent overview of this website has lead me to wonder if the human heartbeat has a direct corelation to phi. Perhaps in the measured longevity of the beat as well as the actual sound pattern.

  2. Xristos 'o Zoografos says

    It strikes me so very interesting that as a young artist I was already learning the proportions of the human body so that I could draw a reasonably realistic figure, but in my case I learned the proportions from sources which used a more general fraction than the detailed decimal number shown in this site–that is, from books and teachers all the way back to grade school (and then, after going to the Fox Lane Junior High School in Upstate N.Y. and Long Island City High School in Queens, N.Y., I attended the Pratt Institute Art School for both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees and all the way through we had six-hour drawing classes each week and drew from nude models).

    For example, when it comes to limbs, it was this way: The lower arm or forearm is two-thirds the length of the upper arm, which is longest; the hand (palm plus longest finger) is two-thirds the length of the forearm; each part of each finger, from longest to shortest, is two-thirds the length of each segment of the part of the finger before it, starting from where the finger is attached to the palm. This two-thirds proportioning is also applied to the feet, running from the upper leg bone to the lower leg bone to the foot. And, the artist generally uses the head of the individual to describe his or her height, although the basic general height of a generalized person is eight heads tall.

    That’s why the “phi” and “fibonacci” as well as the “golden mean” caught my attention at this site. Actually, I originally set out to find out how to figure out the exact length of each limb (so I could get accurate lengths for shirt sleeves and pants), and that’s how I and this site crossed paths! You have to remember, too, that the artist does not stop to do mathematical calculations–the artist simply uses his sharp trained eyes, and so two-thirds is much easier to determine with the eyes than 1.61804 or 61.8%. By the way, the fraction two-thirds reduced to a decimal works out to .66666… or 66%.

    Still, the artist is not viewing decimals; the artist views relationships through visual determination, and note, too, that art teachers or drawing instructors are always urging their student-artistes to exaggerate both the sizes of the body parts and the angles of a model’s poses! Meanwhile, the artist is certainly aware of the “golden proportion”, as it is named here. Ah! wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles!!! For li’l ole me (I just turned 65 on May 5th), ’twas once upon a time and long ago!

  3. says

    Absolutely brilliant article. “In the beginning was the word, and the word was God” is referring to what I believe to be the word = sound = vibration. Have you seen the videos of sand on a speaker plate forming intricate patterns from the specific tunings of the sound? The beginning of the universe was formed from vibration which organizes matter into patterns. Ancient cultures knew this.

    Pythagoras would have you fast 40 days on water just to enter his Pythagorean academy. He would then give you a “sacred meal” known as Pulse (as mentioned in Daniel 1:12 in the bible) he referred to it as “the meal of hercules” it was a sprouted fruit nut grain meal that was prepared to the phi ratio. ancient cutlures knew that food prepared in this way was perfect for the body.

  4. Caeli Francisco says

    Can anyone tell me where on the human body can be found the exact golden ratio point? Would be at the heart?

  5. Sceptic says

    I must say that the common believe in the five senses of the human body is, in fact, not true. We have more than 5 senses (and I’m not referring to the paranormal “eye” which some people believe in).

    We have, for example, the sense of temperature, which is not the same as touch. The sense of pain is somehow related to touch but not quite the same.
    The sense of pressure.
    The sense of proprioception (which makes you able to know where your body parts are while closing your eyes).
    The sense of balance.
    ….
    Senses are, in fact, the human body taking information about the enviroment and processing this.
    The 5 5 5 5 thing is just mere coïncidence, or in other words, searching for something that is not there.

    • says

      Good point on human senses. The page has been corrected to say “five sense organs” rather than “five senses” to make it accurate. How do you determine what is coincidence and what is not? It’s possible to search for relationships that do not exist, but also possible to chose to dismiss those that do. Our underlying beliefs strongly influence how we see the evidence.

  6. says

    For as long as I’ve been researching the Golden Section and related phenomenon- its still a bit of a hurdle to expect an absolute (even a proportional one) to occur in all humans. Even described simply- any pairing of normal human beings– with two eyes, two arms, two legs, nose, ears, mouth etc etc etc– seldom look the same. The great diversity of people on earth who belong to the same species is amazing. As much as I hate to ignore my intuition and numerous spiritual experiences, I can’t help but to desire a formula- at the very least, a guideline within which phi would occur unerringly. I doubt that’s going to happen, at least not within my current mathematical abilities- but in the meantime– if your trust your eyes as well as your math– check out the “test” I did in the video posted above. Not what I expected– but still fascinating.

    • says

      Great video! Please share more of your work here. One exception regarding your conclusions: See the Birth of Venus on the Botticelli page as analyzed in high resolution. I don’t think anyone takes the position that all humans conform to the golden ratio in all their proportions. It’s just the proportion that seems to appear with frequency and that is often related to perceptions of beauty.

      • Metakythera says

        Thanks Gary! To be honest- I started off expecting to get a lot more yeses than nos- but felt I had to share the result one way or another. The final result being so close to 1.6:1 (even if not in the desired direction) was an odd surprise though. About beauty– often in the eye of the beholder– I’d be curious to hear from others, but in many cases (Lindsay Lohan for one) it seemed like those bodies which did conform to the Golden Ratio had the navel too high for my tastes– an odd observation I know– but after going through so many pics, couldn’t help but notice. Also- as the type of photos available tended to be celebs and professional models- I couldn’t help but wonder about different races and- shall we say– less “fit” family lines.

        I actually found this after I had completed the video, but if any one else is interested, this study actually came to the opposite conclusion as I did: http://www.fq.math.ca/Scanned/17-4/davis-a.pdf I will definitely share more of my research in a future video- I just feel the need to apologize ahead of time for the 1998 slideshow tech level! ;)

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