Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Starship design and the Golden Ratio

There is a new Star Trek movie coming out in 2009 and many Enterprise fans are not very happy with the newly designed starship.

You'd think once we invented faster than light space travel, we could invent another way to make shapes and objects more beautiful. However, the creation of beauty in design is one area that ancient mathematicians cannot be topped.

Like many fans, I love the original design of the Enterprise just as much as I fear and loath the Next Generation designs. I decided to pull down a blueprint of the original Enterprise and apply Golden Ratio's to see if there was an answer.

I think you'll agree this is "fascinating". We begin with a humble circle.

Duplicate that circle, times it by the Golden ratio. Place the new circle directly on top.

Now, we overlay our circles upon a blueprint of the original Enterprise NCC-1701.

Notice how the smaller circle perfectly encompasses the secondary hull where the larger circle matches primary hull. Therefore, the NCC Enterprise 1701 Primary & Secondary Hull is designed in perfect Golden Ratio. But that is not where the art of sacred geometry stops.

Above is the Enterprise with a Fibonacci spiral overlayed upon it. See how the center point of the booms for the nacelles are directly aligned in golden ratio to the length of the ship. Furthermore, the position of the outer line of the nacelles are defined on the fourth iteration of the Fibonacci rectangle.

Finding Phi ratios in the originally designed NCC 1701 starship is pretty much like shooting fish in a barrel. Since this ratio has long been understood to give visually pleasing shapes, it is no wonder that many fans of the show regard this original design as the most beautiful of the series. The Enterprise featured in the first Star Trek movie was nothing more than a more visually exciting make-over of the original design. By contrast, see how the NCC 1701-D of Star Trek, The Next Generation fits within a Fibonacci Rectangle.

Well, as you can see, it doesn't. Nothing lines up with the Phi ratio of the length of the ship. The primary hull goes well outside the bounds of visually pleasing geometry. I've always felt that this design was uniquely unattractive, and it appears that ancient architects and mathematicians would agree!


pcrump said...

Brilliant! Do the brand new enterprise and I think you have a story there.

David Clayton said...

It's a great idea, I think, to look to the ancient mathematicians. Although it was known, but not called Golden, by the ancient Greeks, and every text book assumes that it is so, I can't find any reliable evidence that the Golden Ratio was consciously used in the design of anything very much before the 20th century. Better to look to Boethius (6th century),Roman architect Vitruvius. See and

Eric said...

Oh, I love it. LOL! I don't think I've ever seen why TOS is superior expressed by mathematical concepts before.