In a world where a mathematical temptress, known as the Golden Ratio, is probably hidden in all beautiful places, from a snail's shell to the Greek Parthenon and Egypt's pyramids, it is perhaps not surprising that humans have long tried to connect it. yes, people.
But the golden relationship is more urban legend than the secret key to the universe; it does not describe a snail shell, the Parthenon, the pyramids or beautiful faces, as popular belief would have it. The same goes for a new study that suggests that the golden relationship exists in the skull of human beings: Anatomists say it is nonsense.
The golden ratio, also known as the divine proportion, is an infinite number which is approximately equal to 1
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The golden ratio exists in some places , for example, in how seeds or leaves from certain plants are arranged, and it has inspired some art, for example the Salvador Dalí . But many previous studies have also suggested that the golden relationship exists in human anatomy and physiology – such as in our fingers, a fertile uterus, red blood cells and even healthy blood pressure – and most of these claims have usually the deficit of actual science.
Before, however, no one had suggested that the relationship existed in human skulls, said the lead author Dr. Rafael Tamargo, professor of neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
After years of working with human brains by manually measuring their skulls with a tape measure, Tamargo began to realize that the skull's dimensions might follow the golden relationship. To come up with more accurate figures, Tamargo and his colleague Dr. Jonathan Pindrik, a neurosurgeon at Nationwide Children's Hospital and assistant professor of neurological surgery at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, to analyze both human and other mammalian shells.  They first analyzed CT scans of 100 patients who had presented the hospital with various problems, such as trauma. They found that two (imaginary) lines in the skull follow the golden relationship. One of the lines extends from the nose base near the eyebrows (called the nation) to a point at the bottom of the back of the head (called the inion). The second imaginary line also extends from the nation to a point at the top of the head and where three legs of the skull meet (called bregma).
In other words, the researchers found that the line from the nation to the inion divided by the line from bregma to the inion was on average equal to 1.64. The line from bregma to inion divided by the line from nation to bregma was on average equal to 1.57. Take those numbers "with a standard of error," and it's "within the golden ratio," Tamargo said.
But of course you can draw any line on the body and eventually come up with the golden ratio, so the key is to find "structures that have meaning in other contexts", he said. In this case, the line from the top of the nose to the back of the head (nasion to bregma) is a "very important line, because in almost all mammals it includes the center of the brain, and it gives you an idea of the complexity of the animal," he said.
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But Lawrence Witmer, an anatomy professor at Ohio University who was not involved in the study, disagrees. " there are some problems [with this study] not least as their own data on people do not support the golden relationship, because they did not find 1,618 but rather 1.64, "he told Live Science. The figures are" close but no magic convergence on a mathematical ideal. "
" The whole thing seems to be an attempt to place humans from other animals, "Witmer added.
Tamargo and his team also analyzed 70 skulls of six other mammals that they had access to in common at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. They found that none of the other mammal shells followed the golden relationship. Rabbits were farthest away, dogs and two species of monkeys were in the middle, and lions and tigers were closest to following it.
"It's a small sample, but there may be an indication that as you increase the complexity of the animal in the organism, the skull may approach the golden ratio," Tamargo said. Although monkeys are always considered more like humans than lions and tigers, the two monkey species they looked at – blue monkeys and rhesus monkeys – are far away from us, he said. "I would be very interested in looking at the chimpanzees of chimpanzees and bonobos to see what their numbers are," because these primates are closest to humans in terms of intellect, he added.
The presence of the golden ratio in biological systems can even optimize their structure or function, Tamargo said. But "what that means in the skull, I really don't know."
But this is not supported by the literature, says Dale Ritter, the lead human anatomy instructor for Alpert Medical School (AMS) at Brown University in Rhode Island, who was also not part of the study. "The presence of this relationship in different species and systems does not mean that it is a basis for optimized structure and function, or an indication of efficiency," he said.
What's more, the rank the authors gave to mammals when it comes to developing toward the golden relationship is "not an evolutionary progression," Ritter told Live Science. Both Ritter and Witmer agreed that the animals were arranged in a "biased" order of complexity according to the golden relationship and could have been rearranged otherwise, which produced less impressive results.
"I don't understand it … unless it is an attempt to separate humanity from the rest of the natural world as an invincible ideal," Witmer said.
"I think the overall problem with this paper is that there is very little (maybe no) science in it," Ritter added. But "with so many bones and so many interesting points on these bones, I would imagine that there would be at least some" golden conditions elsewhere in the human skeletal system .
The results were published September 1, The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery .
Originally published on Live Science .