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Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization
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Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  141 ratings  ·  22 reviews
In this groundbreaking book, Adrian Bejan takes the recurring patterns in nature—trees, tributaries, air passages, neural networks, and lightning bolts—and reveals how a single principle of physics, the Constructal Law, accounts for the evolution of these and all other designs in our world.

Everything—from biological life to inanimate systems—generates shape and structure
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ebook, 288 pages
Published January 24th 2012 by Anchor
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Michiel
Like some people before me, I was was somewhat disappointed in this book.

First of all, Bejan is very arrogant. He is not the first, nor will be the last popular science author to be this, but it quite insufferable of him to keep repeating that he has surpassed Darwin and can make every (important) thing in nature clear by performing his subfield of thermodynamics. Of course prof. Bejan keeps reminding us that it is only natural that the ignorant masses can't recognize his genius. (And he doesn't
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Thomas
The hypothesis of this book is that an innate goal of nature is to accomplish its flows of energy and matter with the least dissipation of energy in the form of useless heat; and that the evolution of things toward this goal leads to the profusion of complexity found in nature, including to living things.

The author proclaims this and illustrates it with numerous examples to provide evidence. He does this in an arrogant and self-promoting way that many others have noted in their reviews. Let me
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Kate
Design in Nature presents some interesting new thoughts on flow systems and the nature of the biosphere. However, I don't think it really achieves its purpose of introducing these thoughts to a lay audience.

Note: I was an English major. If you are a scientist or a mathematician, you may well get a lot more out of it than I did.

The primary author is Adrian Bejan, who is a well-known physics professor at Duke University. His cowriter is J. Peder Zane, whom I assume was hired to make the book more
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Clark Hays
Everything is channels and flow

After reading Design in Nature, by Brian Bejan, everything seemed to change just a little. I imagine this is what it might have felt like after reading Darwin before evolution was an accepted theory. Bejan writes about another natural force he calls the constructal law. New to me, the concept is that anything that flows — and practically everything flows — is governed by an organizing principle that maximizes the efficiency of flow against resistance. The thought t
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Will
I've been waiting a while to come across a book like this one. Reading this book brought me back to when I first read The Selfish Gene. A simple, clear exposition of a principle that has so much explanatory power. Like Dawkins, Bejan offers a new and powerful perspective. But the scope of this book is far broader than anything Dawkins (or most other authors, for that matter) could aspire to.

It is extremely bold in one sense - the authors propose a universal theory of life (and a vast definition
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Chris Kargel
I became both enamored and annoyed by this little treatise. The idea of searching for a unifying force behind the driving life of both animate and inanimate objects sounds so appealing, I couldn't help but almost cheer at the celebration of Movement. However, I would have easily wanted to avoid the grandstanding and self-indulgence the author offered. When he started talking about how all the ideas of early thinkers coalesced into the law of gravity, I shuddered at the obvious direction of his t ...more
Pete Welter
I came to this book because John Hagel, an author and thinker I admire, was very high on the concept, and because I'm often wondering why things in the world look and work as they do.

Author Adrian Bejan, an expert in thermodynamic engineering, came to Constructal Law though the portal of his field. He noticed that his geometry of the designs required to most efficiently move heat in electrical circuits closely resembled other structures he saw in both natural and man-made environments: trees, ci
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Nick Gogerty
Very well done and simple exposition on constructal theory. the insight of scalar laws leading to change in all systems are important. the basic premise of increased flow leading to phase shifts and bifurcations are very beuatiful discoveries in science and complex systems including social and economic ones. this is a very accessible and fun science book.
Heidi Denkers
I enjoyed reading about the constructal law, its implications and it's applications. However, I was put off by the paragraph structure and what I experienced as overly repetitive. Yes, the author reads as narcissistic. .. but most scientists, doctors, and philosophers do. An adherence to your work and an excitement for it is necessary in these fields.
I was disappointed not to enjoy his anecdotes and information more. It was formatted such that it was not pleasing for me to read. Neither dense e
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Ashwin
Interesting premise and well presented. At some point though it seems that they are trying to stretch a simple idea too much to fill the pages.
Dan
The premise of the book is that nature (which include all of us) follows a basic law of construction and how energy is dispersed over a system. If you look at a tree and the way the branches grow out from the trunk, this is the same structure as a river system, the human lung, lightning and social organizations (larger branches dispersing energy and work into smaller and smaller branches to effectively move energy and produce work efficiently). Following the laws of thermodynamics, energy gets d ...more
MikeFromQueens
Not very well written. It almost felt like the chapters were a transcribed lecture series. I found that there were too many references throughout the book to the same examples such that I often skipped paragraphs. Interesting concepts, yes, and several thought-provoking ideas that resolved such things (in my mind) as to why Humans are #1 on this planet: bi-pedal is a distinct advantage! I did enjoy the reference to Steven Jay Gould and "re-playing the tape" thought-experiments. Constructal law i ...more
Lori
A potentially valuable insight and tool buried in hubris and poor writing. The basic idea is to apply the basic laws of thermodynamics to living organisms (and social structures and human knowledge/science). Instead of looking at static structures we need to look at how energy/mass flows through them.

A good seminar could be made by critically detailing Bejan's misconceptions and errors.
1) He really doesn't understand Darwin or Steven Jay Gould.
2) The whole scaling concept was known and used 3
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Brent Peters
This is a pretty awesome book. It inspired me to write http://flow.brentpeters.me, which presents a summary of some of the book's main points with some of my own ideas tossed in.

For topics that are usually shrouded in dense science, the author does a great job of simplifying matters into easily-understood parts that will make sense to general audiences.

The first quarter of the book is really all you need to understand what flow is and why it's important. For those who want the extra detail, it's
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Joanne
Apr 04, 2013 Joanne added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joanne by: sang
I really want to read this book - I love the idea of the guiding principle for all of evolution - it appeals to how I think the world is. But the scientific/engineering style makes me struggle, which is a pity. I will keep trying....

Finally got into it, about 2/3rds of the way through - I am really enjoying reading about the principle, totally get it, and can apply it to all areas in life that I can think about (self-actualisation, emotional flow, behaviours, law of attraction), although the aut
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Jeannine
I can't really rate this book because I didn't finish it. The author's purpose in writing it escapes me totally.

But he had some good quotes. This one from The Tinkerer's Accomplice: "the pernicious tendency for the convenient assumption to become unquestioned dogma".
Bob
I read this with some of my LTs. They liked it a great deal. It is insightful and will give you lots to chew on, but if his stuff was as useful as he claims I think the Nobel committee would have found him by now.
Travis Twomey
The constructural law gives rise to all kinds of new thinking. What the author demonstrates is significant and the thinking that arises is incredible. Good read for thinkers.
Ninakix
definitely written by a mechanical engineer (it reminds me of school) (: dense, and a bit unnecessarily long, but it has the potential to change the way you view things.
Ed Maguire
The author's constructal theory provides a basis for the common evolution of biological organisms, organizations etc. It's all about flow...
John Stein


I gave up, the authors ego was more than I could bear
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