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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

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Possibly the best rectangle in the world

2 minutes

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which is the fairest rectangle of them all?

Described by the 17th-century astronomer Johannes Kepler as a ‘precious jewel’, the so-called ‘golden ratio’ is an irrational number whose physical manifestation is prevalent in nature and has been employed by artists, architects and designers for its aesthetic allure. It has been argued, however, that the ratio’s occurrence in the natural world has been exaggerated, and that its ‘beauty’ can be chalked up to its pleasing simplicity. This brief animation explores the ratio through its most famous manifestation, the ‘golden rectangle’, whose very name begs the question whether some shapes are inherently more beautiful than others.

Video by BBC Radio 4 and The Open University

Script: Nigel Warburton

Animator: Andrew Park

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

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