Golden Ratio in prosthetic limbs? Gqeberha young scientist’s pioneering research impresses at ISF

At the 43rd Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF), 16-year-old Drazene Chansen was awarded for a remarkable research project, which investigated the application of the Golden Ratio in both human and prosthetic limb design.

The Paterson High School learner in Gqeberha was among 10 learners selected to receive a highly sought-after 12-month mentorship and incubation programme, generously sponsored by the Durban University of Technology at the at the ISF held at Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre in Boksburg from 3 to 6 October 2023. The programme is valued at R20,000 per learner.

“My research project, ‘Human Limbs vs Prosthetic limbs – you decide?’, was used to investigate if the Golden Ratio is applicable to human limbs. For the ISF, my project was upgraded to investigate the design of prosthetic limbs using the Golden Ratio. I used differential calculus and integral calculus to design my own prosthetic limb,” said Chansen.

The Golden Ratio, often symbolised by the Greek letter phi, is a ratio approximately equal to 1.618 and is also known as the divine proportion. When the proportional ratio of parts of an object, or art or nature, e.g. the human body is close to 1.618 then it is close to perfectly natural beauty. It is closely linked to the Fibonacci sequence which is a numerical expression of the Golden Ratio. Using the Golden Ratio, Chansen found that the proportions in the prosthetic limbs sampled were not close to 1.618 and therefore unnatural.

“My neighbour’s legs were amputated, which inspired the project. I saw her struggling to move from one place to another, and also saw the impact it had on her father. She also seemed highly uncomfortable at times. I wanted to design and develop prosthetic limbs which will be of great benefit to all in need of it,” she said.

Chansen, who dedicates her free time to mathematical research and nurturing her spiritual connection, achieved distinction as the Mathematics category winner at the ISF, earning a well-deserved gold medal for her exceptional research.

“I was very surprised to win the awards, because I did not expect it. I felt very proud of myself for representing my school, my community and my family,” said Chansen.

“I would like to pursue a career in Biomedical Engineering, because I can improve the quality of life of other people,” she added.

Eskom Acting Group Executive for Government & Regulatory Affairs, Natasha Sithole, said: “Being a steadfast supporter of the Eskom Expo, we were overjoyed to witness how it has evolved into an amazing platform to nurture the aspirations of young scientists. Eskom firmly believes that investments in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Innovation (STEMI) will assist in the formulation of enduring solutions to our nation’s pressing challenges. The ISF showcased youthful ingenuity, as learners explored diverse topics, from behavioural studies to pioneering experiments, IT, machine learning, artificial intelligence applications, and the application of physics and mathematics”.

Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty said: “It is most encouraging to note that learners such as Drazene are applying age-old mathematical concepts such as the Golden Ratio to solve real-life challenges, whilst most learners shy away from mathematics. Her research finding is significant for persons with disabilities who use prosthetic limbs. She has shown that certain prosthetic limbs are not being designed accurately”.

Eskom Expo ISF 2023 Special Award winners

Eskom Expo ISF 2023 Grand Award winners

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