Transduction in Biological Systems

Springer Science & Business Media
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The present volume originated from the workshop "Transduction in Biological Sys tems," held at the Marine Biological Station of the Universidad de Valparaiso, Mon temar, Chile, May 23-30, 1988, and contains contributions from most of the partici pants in the workshop. The title of both the workshop and the book reflects accurately the central theme discussed during several days of intense debate and profound intellectual exchange in the peaceful environment offered by the central coast of Chile. It was apparent that the workshop was a great success-a sentiment expressed by many seasoned attendees, some of whom dared opinions as strong as "It was the best ever." There is no single reason to explain why this workshop was so successful. Certainly instrumental was the incredible effort displayed by the Chilean Organizing Committee in selecting adequate facilities and in organizing social events that supplemented the scien tific sessions and provided an authentic fraternal environment for the participants. Equally important were the foreign participants, who enthusiastically gave of their time to take part in the event, and the students, who came from Chile as well as from several other Latin American countries, and who applied the necessary pressure in their repeated demands for scientific clarity, accuracy, and sincerity.
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Publisher
Springer Science & Business Media
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Published on
Mar 8, 2013
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Pages
530
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ISBN
9781468457360
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Chemistry / Physical & Theoretical
Science / Life Sciences / Biochemistry
Science / Life Sciences / Biophysics
Science / Life Sciences / Botany
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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"This is science writing as wonder and as inspiration." —The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal

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 from how much food it eats per day, what its heart-rate is, how long it will take to mature, its lifespan, 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% more efficient—and lives 25% 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.
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