Scale, by Geoffrey West, is a thought provoking book about coarse grained quantitative network theories which concern the entire human species and its interaction with the environment. Although verbose — as I think the intended audience is upper high school and entry-level college — it is clear in its depictions and explanations. This book is an important summary of really profound work and research performed at the Santa Fe Institute. And it is a great introduction to understanding power laws and scaling in biology and network topologies.
Category: geoffrey west (Page 1 of 2)
The other day I heard Geoffrey West’s talk on sustainability, cities, cells, organisms, and complexity. He mentioned the universal scaling law which exists in biological systems called the “3/4 power law,” (see Kleiber’s Law for an example). After the lecture, I asked the question: What about organisms on other planets, do you think they will obey this “3/4 power law?”
West’s response was interesting. He basically said that it would be likely only if these organisms followed the same networking structures and patterns which we observe in Earth’s biosphere (for example, most people are familiar with networks which are hierarchical). In other words, there may be network structures on other worlds, unfamiliar to any scientist here on Earth. If there exist such unknown networks which have guided the evolution of these alien organisms, then these organisms will not obey this “3/4 power law.”
Fascinating response, especially considering the general Astro-Biology ideas of Kauffman. These ideas hypothesize a biological science which can explain all life in the universe, not just life in Earth’s biosphere.