From one of the most influential scientists of our time, a dazzling exploration of the hidden laws that govern the life cycle of everything from plants and animals to the cities we live in.
Visionary physicist Geoffrey West is a pioneer in the field of complexity science, the science of emergent systems and networks. The term complexity can be misleading, however, because what makes West's discoveries so beautiful is that he has found an underlying simplicity that unites the seemingly complex and diverse phenomena of living systems, including our bodies, our cities, and our businesses.
Fascinated by aging and mortality, West applied the rigor of a physicist to the biological question of why we live as long as we do and no longer. The result was astonishing and changed science: West found that despite the riotous diversity in mammals, they are all, to a large degree, scaled versions of each other. If you know the size of a mammal, you can use scaling laws to learn everything, including how much food it eats per day, what its heart rate is, how long it will take to mature, its life span, and so on. Furthermore, the efficiency of the mammal's circulatory systems scales up precisely based on weight: If you compare a mouse, a human, and an elephant on a logarithmic graph, you find with every doubling of average weight, a species gets 25 percent more efficient - and lives 2 percent longer. Fundamentally, he has proven, the issue has to do with the fractal geometry of the networks that supply energy and remove waste from the organism's body.
West's work has been game changing for biologists, but then he made the even bolder move of exploring his work's applicability. Cities, too, are constellations of networks, and laws of scalability relate with eerie precision to them. Recently West has applied his revolutionary work to the business world. This investigation has led to powerful insights into why some companies thrive while others fail. The implications of these discoveries are far reaching and are just beginning to be explored.
Scale is a thrilling scientific adventure story about the elemental natural laws that bind us together in simple but profound ways. Through the brilliant mind of Geoffrey West, we can envision how cities, companies, and biological life alike are dancing to the same simple, powerful tune.
"An enchanting intellectual odyssey…also a satisfying personal and professional memoir of a distinguished scientist whose life’s work came to be preoccupied with finding ways to break down traditional boundaries between disciplines to solve the long-term global challenges of sustainability.... Mr. West manages to deliver a lot of theory and history accessibly and entertainingly.... Provocative and fascinating.” (The New York Times)
“Scale, a grand synthesis of topics [Geoffrey West] has studied for several decades, makes an important and eloquent case for the significance [of universal laws of size and growth] in an ecology of the natural and human world - and in understanding whether the two can fit together.” (Nature)
“West’s insightful analysis and astute observations patiently build an intellectual framework that is ultimately highly rewarding, offering a new perspective on the many scales with which nature and society challenge us.... A fascinating journey.” (Science Magazine)
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So hätte mir mal in der Schule die Disziplin der Biologie beigebracht werden sollen.
Es werden einem Zusammenhänge erklärt, die man so nicht im Leben vermutet hätte.
3 Leute fanden das hilfreich
- Volker S.
Interesting but lengthy
I am not sure why the author felt the need to include the whole background story of how it came to be.
The science stands for itself, though, and is very interesting. The author collects many scaling laws from organisms and cities, giving insight into how they're similar, and how they're not.
1 Person fand das hilfreich