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Summary

Geoffrey West's research centres on a quest to find unifying principles and patterns connecting everything, from cells and ecosystems to cities, social networks and businesses.

Scale addresses big, urgent questions about global sustainability, population explosion, urbanization, ageing, cancer, human life spans and the increasing pace of life but also encourages us to question the world around us.

Why can we live for 120 years but not for a thousand? Why does the pace of life continually increase? Why do mice live for just two or three years and elephants for up to 75? Why do companies behave like mice, and are they all destined to die? Do cities, companies and human beings have natural, predetermined life spans? Are we just a fascinating experiment in natural selection that is ultimately doomed to fail? And what is the origin of the magic number four that seems to determine much of physiology and life history from birth to death?

©2017 Geoffrey West (P)2017 Penguin Random House

Critic reviews

"An absolutely riveting read...groundbreaking." (Marcus du Sautoy)
"This book will expand your thinking from three dimensions to four." (Nassim Nicholas Taleb)
" Scale is a firework display of popular science." (Niall Ferguson)
"This is an important and original book, of immense scope." (Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal)

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What listeners say about Scale

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Information and accessible

It was a long listen, packed full of realism and storytelling. The reading was a bit forced and often too punchy. But the overarching theme of scaling and complexity was thoughtful and insightful. Also very much appreciated the respectful and personal tone suited for the general audience, which is often lacking in much scientific writing.

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Mathematics and beauty without faith

Lots of ground covered here but stick with it for an insight into explaining, or at least understanding, nature and the modern world around us without a need for any faith in any divinities.

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Interesting ideas for sure but not concise enough

Could have been more concise, such as leaving out the historical anecdotes about scientists etc.

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labours a simple insight with arbitrary examples

the premise appears to be that not all relationships in biology or physics are linear. but that there is a 'scaling' relationship that can be formulated for all such relationships. this in itself does not seem to be a big surprise, and the examples given are facetious and distracting from the narrative (for example the size a socket would be if it scaled linearly with the size of a building - which there is no reason it would do).

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  • Chris
  • 08-09-18

brilliant!

so many nuggets and so many intersting threads brought together as elegantly as well written computer code!