December 2, 2014
Golden Ratio Also Relates To Space-Time And Biology
April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The Golden Ratio, found in everything from the curve of an elephant's tusk to the destructive beauty of Hurricane Katrina, is said to represent a "cosmic constant."A research team from the Universities of Witwatersrand and Pretoria have released a study suggesting that this cosmic constant - designated by the Greek symbol ∅ (letter Phi) with a mathematical value of about 1.618 - relates to the topology of space-time, as well as a biological species constant. The results of this study were published online in the South African Journal of Science.
Jan Boeyens, a former Wits University Professor and now at the Centre for Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria, and Professor Francis Thackeray, a paleontologist at Wits University's Evolutionary Studies Institute, have a shared interest in the expression of the Golden Ratio. Such expressions can be seen in items as diverse as the spiral structure of the cochlea ear-bone in a 2-million-year-old fossil hominin from the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in South Africa; the logarithmic spirals of inter-stellar galaxies, the structure of DNA, the growth of many plants, and even in the Periodic Table of the elements.
Thackeray's investigation centered on finding out if the Golden Ratio is present in biology as an approximation of the absolute mean value of a hypothesized species constant (T). T is associated not only with living species of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and beetles, but with extinct species such as Australopithecus, Paranthropus and early Homo, as well.
Thackeray used a statistical analysis of measurements collected from animals of the same species, regardless of whether the species was vertebrate or invertebrate. "Zoologists and paleontologists recognize the number 1.618 in the logarithmic spiral in the growth of mammalian ear structures (the cochlea), whether in modern humans or in australopithecines about 2 million years old. They recognize the same number in the growth structures of the spiral shells of certain mollusks. In addition, they identify the same value for spiral growth structures of fossil ammonites more than 65 million years old," Thackeray explained.
Boeyens, on the other hand, investigated questions relating to the mathematical number (1.618) in the context of chemistry, physics, space-time, relativity and quantum mechanics. Other disciplines, such as meteorology and astronomy already recognize the number as part of their field. Meteorologists see the Golden Ratio in the spiral structure of hurricanes, while astronomers claim the structure of certain spiral galaxies can be identified by Phi.
The study found a remarkable cosmic occurrence of this number with reference to space-time, relativity and quantum mechanics. According to Boeyens, concepts of relativity and quantum mechanics can be integrated through the use of Phi.
The researchers say that the "time has come to recognize that relativity and quantum theories can be integrated, and linked numerically to the value of a mathematical constant - whether in the context of space-time or biology."
Interested in reading more? Check out The Golden Ratio: The Story of PHI, the World's Most Astonishing Number by Mario Livio.