I’ve known a lot of mathematicians in my time, and generally they seem oblivious to any kind of beauty around them, except sometimes for Mozart. This surprises me because there is a beauty in mathematics which a mathematician is best placed to appreciate, and I suspect that many opportunities to appreciate this are missed. I hope I am wrong.
I have a wooden box on my desk, containing a few small important things, and I have often thought it the most beautiful box I’ve ever seen. It’s just a box – why is it so beautiful? Today I actually measured it: 19.3 x 11.4 x 7 cms. Then I looked at the proportions: 19.3/11.4 = 1.69, and 11.4/7 = 1.63, both numbers close to the Golden Mean, 1.6180339887 approximately. So this is why the box looks so right as a box - the proportions are as they should be. But this then begs the more fundamental question: Why is this ratio so right? Any ideas?