The elegant law that governs us all


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

Albert-László Barabási
Scale. Geoffrey West. Penguin Press, 2017. 490 pp.

Science  14 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6347, pp. 138
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan4040