Books

Book Review: Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey B. West

Our lives have developed beyond the basics (food, shelter, heat, copulation.) There are such monumental things in the world like cities and (mega-multinational) companies which affect our lives. Geoffrey B. West has looked into their lifespan, growth, and innovation strength from physics’ perspective, or to be accurate through scaling laws.

The book comprises an introduction to the scaling laws. What they are, how they work, where do they ably, how they affect organisms on the planet (animals, us, trees, structures), and how they were found out and by who. The book’s scope is vast. It is informative. The argumentation is backed up with research and examples, and I liked the ending where he applied the scaling laws found in nature (size, lifespan, growth, energy requirements, and so on) to cities and companies. This is a good book. But a word of warning. This is a laborious book to read. There are so many details to be counted for that it all adds up. To ease the load, the writer put in anecdotes, personal notes, and history of the relevant persons, and ramblings about the subject which were nice to read but didn’t lighten up the book for me. It did the opposite in fact. I got swamped. I’m not saying they were not delightful and fun to read, but too much is too much. That is my only complaint.

I think this is a book worth to read. I learned a lot about scaling laws. The power of 1/4 and the optimization of energy cost and growth. Take your time with this book. And on the last note, the ending was amazing. I appreciated that Geoffrey B. West wrote about the Theory of Everything and the dangers of it. How it can be an intellectual trap. Finally, someone who knows that the current working hypothesis is just that, a working hypothesis, and not the ultimate truth. It is something that holds until proven wrong and scientist should always look for that proof which will nullify their theories.

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