March 2, 2016 — Michael Trott, Chief Scientist
An investigation of the golden ratio’s appearance in the position of human faces in paintings and photographs.
There is a vast amount of literature on the appearance of the golden ratio in nature, in physiology and psychology, and in human artifacts (see this page on the golden ratio; these articles on the golden ratio in art, in nature, and in the human body; and this paper on the structure of the creative process in science and art). In the past thirty years, there has been increasing skepticism about the prevalence of the golden ratio in these domains. Earlier studies have been revisited or redone. See, for example, Foutakis, Markowsky on Greek temples, Foster et al., Holland, Benjafield, and Svobodova et al. for human physiology.
In my last blog, I analyzed the aspect ratios of more than one million old and new paintings. Based on psychological experiments from the second half of the nineteenth century, especially by Fechner in the 1870s, one would expect many paintings to have a height-to-width ratio equal to the golden ratio or its inverse. But the large sets of paintings analyzed did not confirm such a conjecture.
While we did not find the expected prevalence of the golden ratio in external measurements of paintings, maybe looking “inside” will show signs of the golden ratio (or its inverse)?
In today’s blog, we will analyze collections of paintings, photographs, and magazine covers that feature human faces. We will also analyze where human faces appear in a few selected movies.
November 18, 2015 — Michael Trott, Chief Scientist
Paintings of the great masters are among the most beautiful human artifacts ever produced. They are treasured and admired, carefully preserved, sold for hundreds of millions of dollars, and, perhaps not coincidentally, are the prime target of art thieves. Their composition, colors, details, and themes can fascinate us for hours. But what about their outer shape—the ratio of a painting’s height to its width?
In 1876, the German scientist Gustav Theodor Fechner studied human responses to rectangular shapes, concluding that rectangles with an aspect ratio equal to the golden ratio are most pleasing to the human eye. To validate his experimental observations, Fechner also analyzed the aspect ratios of more than ten thousand paintings.
We can find out more about Fechner with the following piece of code:
May 9, 2014 — Dan Fortunato
If you’ve been anywhere on the internet these past few weeks, there’s little doubt that you’ve come across the game 2048 (made by Gabriele Cirulli). Based on the similar games 1024! (by Veewo Studio) and THREES (by Asher Vollmer), this game has a simple mechanic that can leave you puzzled for days—slide powers of two around a grid, and combine them to make higher powers of two. The goal is to get to 2048. It’s hard to explain just how fun and challenging this game is, so I recommend playing it for yourself.
So, as a tribute to this little game (and in honor of all games mathematical!), I thought it would be fun to demonstrate the power of the Wolfram Language by using it to make our own version of 2048. Let’s go!
The basic structure for the game board will be a 4X4 matrix, initialized with an empty element in each position:
February 12, 2014 — Vitaliy Kaurov, Technical Communication & Strategy
An original gift can make people feel much warmer, especially in the icy weather affecting so many places this winter—including our headquarters. Valentine’s Day is a good excuse to get a little creative in the art of gift making. And for me, “getting creative” long ago became synonymous with programing in the Wolfram Language. It is that medium that compels me to treat programming as art, where one can improvise, easily pulling magical rabbits out of a hat.
So what shall we make? I think the best gift is a DIY one—especially if it says a lot without even making a sound. Below you see a 3D-printed silver earring in the shape of a sound wave recorded while a person is saying “I love you.”
April 12, 2013 — Vitaliy Kaurov, Technical Communication & Strategy
What does programming have to do with a passion for the arts and history? Well, if you turn education into a game and add a bit of coding, then you can easily end up in the realm of a modern paradigm called, fancily, “gamification.” Though gamification is a very wide concept based on game use in non-game contexts (design, security, marketing, even protein folding, you name it), at heart it is very simple: play, have fun, and get things done. I may have oversimplified things here for the sake of a rhyme, but if you bear with my lengthy prelude, we may just see a simple case of turning passion into software.
My obsession with diagrams and simple line drawings began almost unnoticeably in the winter of 2003 in New York City after attending an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art: “the first comprehensive survey of Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings ever presented in America.” You may think it’d be a drag—crowds marching very slowly in a single long line coiling through the exhibition hallways. But perception of time transforms when you stare at 500-year-old craft. I think it was then that it started to dawn on me what special value a first sketch has. A first act when an idea, something very subjective, evasive, living solely inside one’s mind, materializes as a solid reality, now perceivable by another human being. Imagine it happened ages ago. Wouldn’t you be curious what was going on at that moment in time, what got frozen in this piece of craft in front of you?
February 28, 2013 — Christopher Carlson, Senior User Interface Developer, User Interfaces
The National Museum of Mathematics, which opened in Manhattan in December, doesn’t have a logo. It has an infinite family of logos. And the logos the museum uses for official business are not created by design professionals. They’re designed by the museum’s visitors. The logo is itself an exhibit in the museum.
The museum’s unique meta-logo was conceived and implemented at Wolfram Research. When I say “implemented,” I don’t mean just “calculated” or “rendered,” but actually “programmed.” This is a logo that requires an implementation.
October 5, 2012 — Vitaliy Kaurov, Technical Communication & Strategy
On early Monday morning I noticed an interesting question posted on Mathematica Stack Exchange titled quite innocently “xkcd-style graphs.” Due to the popularity of Randall Munroe’s xkcd web comic, I expected a bit more than average of about ten or so up-votes, a few bookmarks. Little did I know. Spontaneously emerging viral events are hard to predict, so if you are lucky to catch one, it is fascinating to watch its propagation across the web and the growth of its ranks. In a matter of two days, this post received more than 100,000 views, 200 up-votes, and 150 bookmarks; produced responses and similar posts across other Stack Exchange communities; triggered a small tornado on Twitter; and was discussed on Hacker News and reddit. For convenience, I repeat Amatya‘s original post and example xkcd image here:
“I received an email to which I wanted to respond with a xkcd-style graph, but I couldn’t manage it. Everything I drew looked perfect, and I don’t have enough command over Plot Legends to have these pieces of text floating around. Any tips on how one can create xkcd-style graphs? Where things look hand-drawn and imprecise. I guess drawing weird curves must be especially hard in Mathematica.”
December 3, 2009 — Wolfram Blog Team
Inspired by the work of avant-garde architects, Chris Carlson, chief interactive graphics developer at Wolfram Research, has been exploring the possibilities of designing and modeling structures using Mathematica.
At the International Mathematica User Conference 2009, Chris shared another one of his interesting adventures in architecture using Mathematica.
In this video from the conference, see Chris put an interesting spin on Norman Foster’s Hearst Tower.
September 11, 2009 — Christopher Carlson, Senior User Interface Developer, User Interfaces
I didn’t set out to tie knots in Norman Foster’s Hearst Tower or wrinkle his Gherkin, but I got carried away. It’s one of the occupational hazards of working with Mathematica.
It started with an innocent experiment in lofting, a technique also known as “skinning” that originated in boat-building. I wanted to explore some three-dimensional forms, and a basic lofting function seemed like a quick ticket to results. I dashed off the function Loft, which takes a stack of three-dimensional contours and covers it with a skin of polygons.