The beauty of mathematics in ancient Western architecture

□ Shen Xingze

Column structure of the Library of Congress

(Image courtesy of the author)

From the Acropolis of ancient Greece to the pyramids of ancient Egypt, this world miracle after another, while shocking people, is also telling people that the appearance of these miracles is inseparable from mathematics. The Acropolis highlights the beauty of the rules of mathematics, and the geometric beauty of mathematics is highlighted in the pyramid of Khufu. Architecture is the crystallization of thousands of years of civilization, mathematics is like opening the code of crystallization, and at the same time making people feel the beauty of mathematics.

The golden ratio of the Parthenon

As one of the birthplaces of Western culture, ancient Greek architecture is very distinctive and has created a precedent for Western architecture.

The most famous masterpiece of ancient Greece is the Acropolis, and the Parthenon is the pinnacle of ancient Greek architecture. From the exterior, the Parthenon is extraordinary, radiant, and when you look inside, the details are also breathtaking. Eight giant pillars stand on the east and west sides, and 17 pillars are used on the north and south sides to support the overall situation, and the Parthenon is 31 meters wide and 70 meters long. The most special feature of the Parthenon is that the top of the gable is 19 meters above the ground, and to convert it mathematically, the Parthenon façade has a height to width ratio of 19:31, which is very close to the “golden ratio”, which makes countless visitors find it very beautiful.

The three pillars and mathematical beauty of ancient Greece

From the Parthenon we can see the general design concept of ancient Greece, which is only the tip of the iceberg in the Acropolis, in fact, the Acropolis is constructed according to the golden ratio as a whole, and the three pillars of ancient Greece are also very beautiful.

Doric column style with male beauty. The Doric column style makes people feel bold and thick, giving a simple and powerful impression, because the ratio of column diameter to column body is 1:6, which is equivalent to the ratio of men’s foot length to body length, so it is also called the golden ratio of the male body. Applying its rules to the pillars, using 6 times the thickness of the base of its own column as the height of the entire column, these buildings make people feel the majesty and simple beauty unique to men.

Ionic column style and feminine beauty. Noble and elegant is synonymous with the Ionic column, because its column diameter: column body = 1: (8~9), when architects pay tribute to the elegant goddess Diana, using the ancient Greek goddess body proportions. For the first time, the thickness of the column was made to 1/8 of the height. The stigma imitates the big wavy curls of a beautiful woman to make two huge swirls, which looks very feminine.

A combination of Corinthian columns and proportions. The Corinthian column style gives the intuitive impression of slenderness and elaboration, and the Corinthian column style is different from the roughness of the Ionic column, not only becoming more slender and feminine, but also replacing the signature cartouche of Ioni with honeysuckle. In general, the style of Corinthian columns is more rich and luxurious, with honeysuckle grass cascading and intertwined on the capitals, and layers of buds blooming in the columns, expressing its strong decoration.

“Coincidence” of pyramid geometry

How wonderful is the architectural beauty of ancient Egypt, which ranks among the four major civilizations along with ancient Greece? As we all know, the pyramid is the crystallization of ancient Egyptian civilization, but also the miracle of world civilization, of which the largest pyramid of Khufu is a miracle of miracles.

The geometry of the pyramid involves two important factors: first, the distance from the tip of the pyramid to the very bottom; The second is the perimeter of the very four weeks of the pyramid in contact with the ground. Take the Great Pyramid of Egypt as an example, it has a total height of 146.61 meters and a circumference of 921.41 meters, while the ratio of circumference to height is exactly 2π. If the overall architectural features of a pyramid are so likely to be a coincidence, the researchers were shocked that the pyramid of Khufu was just as accurate. If the base area of Khufu’s pyramid is divided by twice its height, the quotient is 3.14159, which is exactly the π pi. Its accuracy far exceeds the pi calculated by the ancient Greeks of 3.1428, and it is almost exactly the same as the pi calculated by Zu Chongzhi of ancient mathematicians in China between 3.1415926 and 3.1415927. When the Pyramid of Khufu was built, its total height was 146.59 meters, and if you multiply its total height by one billion, the result is exactly 146.59 million kilometers. This result happens to be the average distance between the Sun and the Earth.

(The author is the person in charge and member of the famous teacher studio of Huazhong Agricultural University)

Source: Popular Science Times