As a huge math nerd and art hobbyist (especially photography), I get really excited when the two overlap. Have you ever heard of the Fibonacci sequence? It starts with 0, 1, then continues with each term equaling the sum of the previous two:
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, etc.
What’s fascinating about the Fibonacci sequence is that it appears everywhere in nature in the form of the golden ratio. Dividing a number in the sequence by the preceding number approximates the golden ratio (the approximation becomes more accurate the further down the sequence the numbers are and approaches ~1.618). This ratio is expressed in the dimensions of conch shell spirals, the arrangement of branches on trees, the formation of petals on flowers, and even in proportions of the human body.
The golden ratio is used in art because shapes which express the ratio are more appealing to the eye–more beautiful. In photography, a common composition technique is the “rule-of-thirds” in which the subject or horizon line is placed a third of the way from the frame. This makes more interesting photographs than if the subject were in the center, and it works because it was derived from the golden ratio.
I think it’s incredible that this simple mathematical pattern seems to govern nature and even how we perceive beauty!
Today I decided to write about something not so “scientific” but something having to do with the science of the body. I had started following the NewScientist blog and I read a piece of writing about a man with Alzheimer’s disease and how he was still able to paint throughout the years following. He painted the way he imagined his brain decaying and I was astounded by the fact that he could still paint while having this disease. I know this subject is a little depressing especially if you guys read my blog on antidepressants. But this time, I just really wanted to show you guys how amazing people can be. And how diseases can’t take away everything from someone.
This man’s name was William Utermolen. In the pictures below, there is a noticable difference between them. As his disease progressed, he became interested more in self-portraits and how he “saw” his brain. His artwork gave his wife, Patricia, some optimism ,when all the signs pointed to something completely different. William’s clinical psychologist had a few comments about his condition and she even thought that music and art could be good for someone with this disease.
I do believe this is true too, not only because of Wiliiam but because of my grandfather who suffered from this disease. He wasn’t “all there” of course, but when he heard music , he was like a little kid again. He would dance and clap his hands and for a little while we would all have a good time just enjoying his happiness with him.
This man, William Utermolen is the definition of how amazing people can be. Even with this disease he still had the passion, talent and dedication to keep painting. And his wife, Patricia, upheld the true meaning of love , because she showed how dedicated she was to her husband and how passionate she was about his painting. It’s stories like these in life where people truly are amazing. Although William’s brain was declining, his passion for art never did.
So maybe, art, especially in William’s case ,helps people through the toughest of situations. His art was his definition of “science”. What do you think? What does science mean to you?