Geoffrey West

Scale: The Universal Laws of Life and Death in Organisms, Cities and Companies

17:14 min
Economics, Philosophy, Sociology, Biology, Science
481 pages, 2017

Geoffrey West, a distinguished theoretical physicist, uncovers the hidden mathematical patterns that dictate the growth, sustainability, and eventual demise of living and non-living systems alike. From the microscopic to the metropolis, West reveals a world underpinned by scaling laws that challenge our perceptions and hint at a universal blueprint. This short distills West’s groundbreaking research into an accessible narrative, exploring why cities thrive under the same laws that govern the lifespan of creatures and the fate of companies. By diving into this work, readers will gain profound insights into the forces shaping our world and the innovative strategies needed to navigate the complexities of growth, sustainability, and innovation. Discover the science that connects life’s smallest organisms to the rise and fall of civilizations, and embark on a journey to understand the fundamental principles that drive the universe's scale.

Geoffrey West

Geoffrey West is a theoretical physicist who has conducted pioneering research on the mathematical principles underlying biological systems and cities. After earning his PhD in physics from Stanford University and serving as a professor at Stanford, Oxford, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Santa Fe Institute, he developed highly influential models showing how attributes of organisms and ecosystems scale with size in predictable mathematical ways. As a distinguished research professor and past president at the Santa Fe Institute, his work applying physics and mathematics to biology and urban studies shed light on universal dynamics connecting living things across scales, for which he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. West's discoveries have been widely recognized, including awards such as the Einstein Award and Guggenheim Fellowship for his scientific contributions modeling principles of growth.


Despite the immense diversity of life on Earth, the growth and organization of organisms follow mathematical "scaling laws" that model how traits change with size, revealing order within complexity.
Go to chapter

Cover of Scale: The Universal Laws of Life and Death in Organisms, Cities and Companies