Get curated editors’ picks, peeks behind the scenes, film recommendations and more.
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
Stories and literature
What makes John Keats’s ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ so enduringly powerful?
Dance and theatre
How a Noh mask-maker summons a lifelike face from a single block of wood
The ancient world
What wine vessels reveal about politics and luxury in ancient Athens and Persia
David Goldblatt captured the contradictions of apartheid in stark black and white
Philosophy of mind
Do we have good reasons to believe in beliefs? A radical philosophy of mind says no
Philosophy of religion
How a devout Catholic philosopher approaches the problem of evil
Love and friendship
When drawing your muse hundreds of times becomes an exercise in love
Thinkers and theories
Is simulation theory a way to shirk responsibility for the world we’ve created?
A dazzling slice-by-slice exploration of wood exposes hidden patterns and hues