Mona Lisa, The (Leonardo da Vinci) Easter Egg - Parabola

My humanities professor said that every line in the Mona Lisa is based on a parabola (remember the curve y=x^2 from high school geometry). If you look closely, there is not a single line in the painting that cannot be shown to be a parabola.

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Contributed By: Anonymous on 02-29-2000
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ToddRMe writes:
Its true, any curve looked at the correct way could be considered part of a parabola. However, it is a fact that nearly all of the proportions in a painting are based on rectangles. To be exact, golden rectangles, a very special shape that can be made infinite times out of itself, getting progressively smaller. During the renaissance, the great artists thought these rectangles were divine, and the ratio between their sides was called the divine proportion. Like pi, this proportion cannot be shown as a fraction of two integers. The Mona Lisa has one of the most extensive use of golden rectangles in any painting ever. Da Vinci was famous for using a lot of them in his paintings. For some odd reason, any painting using these rectangles seems well-proportioned.
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mrman writes:
Actually, any line could be considered a parabola if you think about it. You could substitute for x and y and put it into a quadratic. It is theoretically a parabola and you could graph it that way, it just wouldn't touch any points. Second, I actually went to France and saw the original. It is kept in a climate controlled place behind double layered bullet proof glass. Not every line is a parabola. She has a hair net and it actually makes many square/diamonds.
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steveo writes:
Oh, of course not! Don't spoil a good urban legend with ACTUAL FACTS! Leave us to our delusions, thankyouverymuch! We're dumb and want to stay that way!
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Graatz writes:
Every curve and line can basically been shown to be parabolic (in the form ax^2 + bx + c) because any non-pivot curve can be written in some semblance of that form and because of the unique property that a parabola approaches a straight line when a -> 0 and a -> infinity. (Sorry to bore you all with math, but I'm a math major and that's what we do :)
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Val Sam writes:
I'm sure that your math prof told you that almost any line segment - except for a perfectly straight or perfectly round one - could be modeled by parabolic functions. The trick is to just look at very small segments of the line.
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Aquila writes:
Most 3D curves when viewed at a perspective turn out to be parabolic when viewed as a 2D picture.
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NarkM writes:
I apologize for introducing a potentially logical explanation, but... Many paintings in the day were painted using a Camera Obscura - effectively a projector that was used to project a live scene (such as a model standing for a painting) onto the canvas, and the artist would paint over the projected image. This was done, I believe, by having the model well lit, and the painter in a small dark room right next to them, with a lens (or pinhole, perhaps) in the wall - the image would be projected onto the opposite wall (probably upside down). The use of a simple lens would introduce spherical abberation - the affect you get with a fisheye lens - into the image. I don't know if the distortion would turn straight lines into parabolas, but it would at least make them paraboloid (they'd look roughly like a parabola). The distortion caused by refocusing the camera as the artist painted around the scene can actually be seen in some paintings (don't remember which, I'm a phillistine and don't associate with art).
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Xcel writes:
http://www.aiwaz.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=27
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nxdgirl writes:
I always thought it was the Golden Rectangle. We learned that in Geometry. Neener neener neener! -Mary
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awbaseballer writes:
thats the way da vinci painted using symmetry and porabolas
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CaptDunsel writes:
A parabola is a defined by equidistance from a locus to the parabola and a line to the parabola. However, it is also defined by the generic equation y = ax^2 + bx + c.
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Albatunny writes:
A parabola isn't defined by y=x^2, but by the locus of all points that are equidistant from a line and a plane that do not coincide. Using this definition, you cannot make a parabola into a straight line. I don't mean to be rude, but shouldn't a math major know this?
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