Short works

Books : reviews

Necia Grant Cooper, Geoffrey B. West.
Particle Physics: a Los Alamos primer.
CUP. 1988

This lively well-illustrated collection of articles written by a group of particle physicists at Los Alamos National Laboratory presents to the expert and non-expert alike a comprehensive overview of the major theoretical and experimental advances of the past twenty years. It explains the emergence of a profoundly new understanding of the fundamental forces of Nature. With the unification of the weak and electromagnetic interaction, physicists now stand at the brink of a complete unification of all the forces, including gravity. This achievement brought with it a rich new vocabulary of names and concepts: quarks, gluons, nonabelian gauge theories, spontaneous symmetry breaking, supersymmetry, strings, and worlds of ten dimensions. The exposition of these ideas, done on a variety of technical levels, is designed to interest a broad audience ranging from the professional theorist and experimentalist t0 the inquisitive student. Even a layman can enjoy this book.

It includes theoretical discussions of scaling, the renormalization group, the standard model which encompasses the electroweak theory and quantum chromodynamics, grand unified theories including supersymmetry, superstrings and the family problem. The experimental articles focus on tests of the standard model, underground experiments, and accelerator developments including plans for the SSC. The volume closes with a provocative round table discussion among workers in the field that gives a broad perspective as well as personal viewpoints.

James H. Brown, Geoffrey B. West, eds.
Scaling in Biology.
OUP. 2000

Scaling relationships have been a persistent theme in biology at least since the time of Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo. Because scaling relationships are among the most general empirical patterns in biology, they have stimulated research to develop mechanistic hypotheses and mathematical models. While there have been many excellent empirical and theoretical investigations, there has been little attempt to synthesize this diverse but interrelated area of biology.

In an effort to fill this void, Scaling in Biology, the first general treatment of scaling in biology in over 15 years, covers a broad spectrum of the most relevant topics in a series of chapters written by experts in the field. Some of those topics discussed include allometry and fractal structure, branching of vascular systems of mammals and plants, biomechanical and life history of plants, invertebrates and vertebrates, and species-area patterns of biological diversity. Many more examples are included within this text to complete the broader picture.

Scaling in Biology conveys the diversity, promise, and excitement of current research in this area, in a format accessible to a wide audience of not only specialists in the various sub-disciplines, but also students and anyone with a serious interest in biology.


James H. Brown, Geoffrey B. West, Brian J. Enquist. Scaling in Biology: Patterns and Processes, Causes and Consequences. 2000
John Tyler Bonner, Henry S. Horn. Allometry and Natural Selection. 2000
R. McNeill Alexander. Hovering and Jumping: Contrasting Problems in Scaling. 2000
Andrew A. Biewener. Scaling of Terrestrial Support: Differing Solutions to Mechanical Constraints of Size. 2000
Mimi A. R. Koehl. Consequences of Size Change During Ontogeny and Evolution Consequences of Size Change During Ontogeny and Evolution. 2000
Geoffrey B. West, James H. Brown, Brian J. Enquist. The Origin of Universal Scaling Laws in Biology. 2000
John K-J. Li. Scaling and Invariants in Cardiovascular Biology. 2000
Mair Zamir. Vascular System of the Human Heart: Some Branching and Scaling Issues. 2000
Wolfgang Schreiner, Rudolf Karch, Friederike Neumann, Martin Neumann. Constrained Constructive Optimization of Arterial Tree Models. 2000
Brian J. Enquist, Geoffrey B. West, James H. Brown. Quarter-Power Allometric Scaling in Vascular Plants: Functional Basis and Ecological Consequences. 2000
Henry S. Horn. Twigs, Trees, and the Dynamics of Carbon in the Landscape. 2000
Richard E. Lenski, Judith A. Mongold. Cell Size, Shape, and Fitness in Evolving Populations of Bacteria. 2000
Jan Kozlowski. Does Body Size Optimization Alter the Allometries for Production and Life History Traits?. 2000
Paul H. Harvey. Why and How Phylogenetic Relationships Should be Incorporated into Studies of Scaling. 2000
Helene Cyr. Individual Energy Use and the Allometry of Population Density. 2000
William A. Calder. Diversity and Convergence: Scaling for Conservation. 2000
John Harte. Scaling and Self-Similarity in Species Distributions: Implications for Extinction, Species Richness, Abundance, and Range. 2000

Geoffrey B. West.
Scale: the universal laws of life and death in organisms, cities and companies.
Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 2017

By applying the rigour of physics to questions of biology, Geoffrey West found that despite the riotous diversity in the sizes of mammals, they are all, to a large degree, scaled versions of each other. This speaks to everything from how long we can expect to live to how many hours of sleep we need. He then made the even bolder move of exploring his work’s applicability to cities and to the business world. These investigations have led to powerful insights about the elemental natural laws that bind us together in profound ways, and how all complex systems are dancing to the same simple tune, however diverse and unrelated they may seem.