Quote of the Day : Jay Kapraff & the Golden Mean

“Thus nature provides a system for proportioning the growth of plants that satisfies the three canons of architecture. All modules are isotropic and they are related to the whole structure of the plant through self-similar spirals proportioned by the golden mean.”

Jay Kappraff, Connections: The Geometric Bridge Between Art and Science

Origins of the Quote

The quote is from one of the most important books of the 20th century, published 1990, Connections: The Geometric Bridge Between Art and Science. As the name suggested, the book tirelessly worked to create a “geometric bridge between art and science.” In a single volume, it brought together material from the areas of proportion in architecture, similarity, the golden mean, graphs, isometric transformations and symmetries of the plane. The success of Connections, and its beauty lies with Kapraff’s ability to blend theory and practice.

The Person Behind the Words

There is very little that one knows about the personal life of passionate mathematician Jay Kappraff; save that he has dedicated his life to finding the connections between science, art, and mathematics. Through his life’s work, he integrates the science of harmonics, architecture as well as biology, bringing to the forefront the tremendous connection.

He studied engineering, physical sciences, and mathematics at New York Polytechnic, earning a B.Ch.E. in chemical engineering in 1958. In 1974 he won the prestigious scholarship and a Ph.D. from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Science at New York University.

A professor at the Cooper Union College in New York City, he held the position of aerospace engineer at none less than the coveted NASA. Currently, he holds tenure as an associate professor of mathematics at the New Jersey Institute of Technology where he has developed a course in the mathematics of design for architects and computer scientists.

A prolific writer, Kappraff has several articles published on many diverse and difficult subjects like fractals, phyllotaxy, design science, plasma physics, passive solar heating and aerospace engineering. Apart from the popular Connects, he has authored Mathematics Beyond Measure: A Random Walk Through Nature, Myth, and Number, his new book.

Some Final Thoughts

Paying homage to the master architect, designer, and artist of all times – nature is Jay Kappraff. It is not uncommon that scholars through time have been inspired by nature’s engineering for eons. She has been a study and her mysteries are intriguing and are at times astonishingly simple and yet difficult to fathom. It can be safely said that nature has played a muse to many scholars through time and the inspiration behind many groundbreaking designs, art, literature and science.


Check out our Quote of the Day archive where we bring you quotes hand picked by me, Divvya Nirula. Sharing the stories, people, moments behind the inspiration and thought provoking words.