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Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies Hardcover – 16 May 2017

4.4 out of 5 stars 199 ratings

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"An enchanting intellectual odyssey...also a satisfying personal and professional memoir of a distinguished scientist whose life's work came to be preoccupied with finding ways to break down traditional boundaries between disciplines to solve the long-term global challenges of sustainability.... Mr. West manages to deliver a lot of theory and history accessibly and entertainingly... Provocative and fascinating."--The New York Times

"Scale, a grand synthesis of topics [Geoffrey West] has studied for several decades, makes an important and eloquent case for the significance [of universal laws of size and growth] in an ecology of the natural and human world -- and in understanding whether the two can fit together." --Nature

"West's insightful analysis and astute observations patiently build an intellectual framework that is ultimately highly rewarding, offering a new perspective on the many scales with which nature and society challenge us...A fascinating journey." - Science Magazine

"This is the sort of big-ideas book that comes along only every few years, the kind that changes the conversation in boardroom, common room and dining room....A book full of thrilling ideas." --The Sunday Times (London)

"From a dean of complexity theory comes a sharp consideration of the pace and pattern of life in a universe of "complex adaptive systems" ...West's book is a succession of charts, graphs, and aha moments, all deeply learned but lightly worn. By the end of the book, readers will understand such oddments as why it is that the hearts of all animals, from mouse to elephant, beat roughly the same number of times across a lifespan and why the pace of life increases so markedly as the population grows (which explains why people walk faster, it turns out, in big cities than out in the countryside) ...Illuminating and entertaining--heady science written for a lay readership, bringing scaling theory and kindred ideas to a large audience."--Kirkus Reviews

"I can think of no more exciting thinker in the world today than Geoffrey West. By bringing a physicist's razor-sharp mind to wonderfully surprising questions -- 'Why Aren't There Mammals the Size of Tiny Ants?' or 'Are Cities and Companies Just Very Large Organisms?' -- West forces us to see everything anew, from our own bodies to the mega-cities our species increasingly chooses to inhabit. Scale is a firework display of popular science."
--Niall Ferguson, senior fellow, the Hoover Institution

"This spectacular book on how logarithmic scaling governs everything is packed with news--from the self-similar dynamics of cells and ecosystems to exactly why companies always die and cities don't. I dog-eared and marked up damn near every page."
--Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog

"Geoffrey West's Scale is filled with brilliant insights. He illuminates the laws of nature underlying everything from tiny organisms and humans to cities and companies, and provides a quantitative framework for decoding the deep complexity of our interconnected world. If you want to know why companies fail, how cities persist and what is needed to sustain our civilization in this era of rapid innovation, read this amazing book."
--Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce

"When Geoffrey West, a brilliant theoretical physicist, turned his lens to the study of life spans, biological systems or cities he stumbled onto a game-changing universal insight about growth and sustainability. Scale is dazzling and provocative and West proves himself to be a compelling and entertaining writer--this is a book we will be talking about for a long time."
--Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

"If there were a Nobel Prize for transdisciplinary science Geoffrey West would have won it for the work covered in Scale. This is a book of great originality and deep importance, containing startling insights about topics as seemingly unrelated as aging and death, sleep, metabolism, cities, energy use, creativity, corporations, and even the sustainability of our existence. If you are curious about how the world really works, you must read this book."
--Bill Miller, Chairman, Emeritus, Sante Fe Institute

"Geoffrey West's Scale is a revelation. Based on his path breaking theory and research on super-linear scaling, it provides powerful new insights into the basic scientific laws that power our modern society and economy, its startup companies, large corporations and cities. The book is a must read for CEOs, technologists, mayors, urban leaders and anyone who wants to understand the simple laws that shape the complex, self-organizing world in which we live."
--Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class

"This is an important and original book, of immense scope. Geoffrey West is a polymath, whose insights range over physics, biology and the social sciences. He shows that the sizes, shapes and lifetimes of living things - despite their amazing diversity -- display surprising correlations and patterns, and that these follow from basic physical principles. He then discovers, more surprisingly, the emergence of similar 'scaling laws' in human societies - in our cities, companies and social networks. These findings are presented in clear non-technical prose, enlivened by anecdotes which convey how these concepts arose, and thoughtful assessment of why they're important for those planning our future. This fascinating book deserves very wide readership."
--Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and author of Just Six Numbers

"Each human should learn to read and write, to count, and for those who know how to count, scalability. Scaling is the most important yet most hidden and rarely discussed attribute--without understanding it one cannot possibly understand the world. This book will expand your thinking from three dimensions to four. Get two copies, just in case you lose one."
--Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the Incerto

"An absolutely riveting read. Like the best detective story, West lays out the amazing challenge of understanding why animals, cities and companies all scale so uniformly and then skillfully lets us into the secrets that his detective work has uncovered. This book captures the spirit of science in the 21st century, revealing the deep connections not just across physics and biology but society and life. The book is a perfect balance between the big scientific story and West's own personal narrative. We accompany the author on his quest to face up to his own mortality while at the same time being exposed to the theoretical discoveries that West has pioneered in his groundbreaking work."
--Marcus du Sautoy, Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University and author of The Great Unknown

"It's rare in the history of science that someone has a big, bold, beautiful, stunningly simple new idea that also turns out to be right. Geoffrey West had one. And Scale is its story."
--Steven Strogatz, Professor of Mathematics at Cornell University and author of The Joy of X

About the Author

Geoffrey West is a theoretical physicist whose primary interests have been in fundamental questions in physics and biology. West is a Senior Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a distinguished professor at the Sante Fe Institute, where he served as the president from 2005-2009. In 2006 he was named to Time's list of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World."

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
199 customer ratings
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Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read for anyone
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 February 2018
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Richard Hughes-Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a great read and hat's off to the author
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 March 2018
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6 people found this helpful
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Avid reader of history
4.0 out of 5 stars Some excellent ideas and insights - writing style slightly on the ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 5 July 2017
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4 people found this helpful
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Peter Alan Henderson
4.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting factual book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 June 2018
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3 people found this helpful
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Eric Evans
4.0 out of 5 stars This was an intriguing book and the author's point was ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 2 July 2018
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S. Barnes
3.0 out of 5 stars Some gems in places but also too hand wavy
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 September 2018
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Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 5 August 2017
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4 people found this helpful
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briand
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind opening
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 2 September 2019
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N.Falk
5.0 out of 5 stars Scale rules
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 June 2017
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2 people found this helpful
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Neslon
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 October 2018
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SBn
5.0 out of 5 stars Ein bahnbrechendes Buch mit reellen Beitrag zur fundierten Umweltdiskussion
Reviewed in Germany on 12 June 2018
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Cameron
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read if you want to understand scale
Reviewed in Canada on 27 November 2019
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entropier
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book
Reviewed in Canada on 27 July 2017
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Mathieu Hélie
5.0 out of 5 stars A plain-language story of a breakthrough in complexity science that will transform multiple fields of study
Reviewed in Canada on 28 July 2018
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s.j.
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly multidisciplinary and a very interesting book.
Reviewed in India on 20 November 2019
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