Are we hardwired for beauty? A recent Italian study suggests so. Researchers at the University of Parma showed fourteen test subjects with no experience in art theory original and distorted images of Classical and Renaissance sculptures and monitored their brain activity. The originals conformed to the Golden Ratio of 1.618 (the constant phi) which occurs when the ratio between the sum of two quantities and the larger of these constituent quantities is the same as the ratio between the larger and the smaller quantities.
The Golden ratio is found in nature in the proportions of spiral galaxies and seashells, tree branches and the bones that comprise human limbs . It was known to the Ancient Greeks (and was used in the design of the Parthenon, among other things), employed by renaissance painters (Leonard Da Vinci was obsessed with it), and is still taught to graphic artists as one of the foundations of good design.