A dog owner weighs twice as much as her German shepherd. Does she eat twice as much? Does a big city need twice as many gas stations as one that is half its size? Our first instinct is to say yes. But, alas, we are wrong. On a per-gram basis, a human requires about 25% less food than her dog, and the larger city needs only 85% more gas stations. As Geoffrey West explains in Scale, the reason behind these intriguing phenomena is a universal law known as allometry—the finding that as organisms, cities, and companies grow, many of their characteristics scale nonlinearly.
The elegant law that governs us all
Scale. Geoffrey West. Penguin Press, 2017. 490 pp.
Science 14 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6347, pp. 138