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On Growth and Form

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  471 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Why do living things and physical phenomena take the forms they do? Analyzing the mathematical and physical aspects of biological processes, this historic work, first published in 1917, has become renowned as well for the poetry of is descriptions.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published July 31st 1992 by Cambridge University Press (first published January 1st 1942)
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A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonA Brief History of Time by Stephen HawkingGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared DiamondCosmos by Carl SaganThe Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
Best General Science Books
72nd out of 371 books — 363 voters
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonA Brief History of Time by Stephen HawkingCosmos by Carl SaganThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Best Science Books - Non-Fiction Only
259th out of 1,036 books — 2,560 voters

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Jul 13, 2010 Christopher rated it it was amazing
This book is a meticulous work that's both thought provoking and inspiring in its scope. There are plenty of profound, even poetic, insights scattered throughout a density of seemingly sterile precision. An especially interesting holism can be found in the chapter titled 'On the Theory of Transformations, or the Comparison of Related Forms' : "With the 'characters' of Mendelian genetics there is no fault to be found; tall and short, rough and smooth, plain or coloured are opposite tendencies or ...more
Aug 05, 2012 Fred rated it really liked it
I read the modern reprint by Dover. I highly recommend this classic book, but I also recommend anyone avoid the Canto abridged edition pictured here.
Lorne Rothman
"On Growth and Form" is a brilliant piece of scientific literature written by a true renaissance man. This remarkably varied book describes the wondrous diversity of patterns we see in nature, yet helps us to see the unity in their origins, through detailed explanations of the simple, common rules that govern the development and structure of all living organisms.

Written in 1917, "On Growth and Form" was ahead of its time, and was surely a seminal piece in the development of complexity theory an
Apr 27, 2011 Nigel_s rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fav-nonfiction
A beautiful and bountiful book, I have spent many hours since reading it the first time just looking at the pictures.
Bill Daniels
Jan 19, 2015 Bill Daniels rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my double armful of totally mind blowing books on my shelves!

Barry Behrstock
This is the classic on the subject
Mar 13, 2011 Peter added it
A science classic. The meaning of form. Invention of chaos: A science masterpiece. Written during WWI, revised during WW2. An amazing amount of knowledge, viewed through the eyes of an incredibly perceptive scholar and scientist. Early 20th century writing style. Greek, Latin, French and German citations. From the prefatory note: "an easy introduction to the study of organic Form, by methods which are the common places of physical science, which are by no means novel in their application to natu ...more
Miko Shepherd
Jun 15, 2015 Miko Shepherd is currently reading it
a surface such that 1/r+1/r'=C, in other words a surface which has the same mean curvature at all points, is equivalent to a surface of minimal area for the volume enclosed

the sphere is also, of all posssible figures, that which encloses teh greatest volume with the least area of surface; it is strictly and absolutely the surface of minimal area, and it is
Jun 30, 2014 Thalia rated it it was amazing
Read years ago in grad school. I love this one.
Jan 05, 2015 Kaustubh rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended for anyone interested in explaining natural phenomena. The author takes us on a journey at the interface between biology and physics, and also of his mind! Of course, the entire book is speculative. However, I think that the book is a perfect example of how to generate curiosity about a particular topic. It has greatly impacted my thinking.
Nov 12, 2008 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pre-2008
A classic. Ties to natural history... In fact I was turned onto this by Stephen Jay Gould who penned monthly essays in Natural History (the Journal)for most of his adult life. The test goes back a ways and is not accessible to the average modern reader. Its scope is broad, but it can get rather dry for the uninitiated.
M T Han
Great book. I get the overall idea. But really hard to read. Need patience.
Nick Black
Nov 30, 2008 Nick Black marked it as to-read
Still haven't found a bad book from the Canto line of Cambridge Publishing, and this one looks to continue the strong trend. I saw this at Borders the other day, and DJ's addition reminded me I ought pick this up and take a look...
Aug 02, 2008 Gabriel rated it really liked it
Pretty book. Pretty pretty book. Sometimes the math lost me, but his descriptions of bees building their hives, and the like are astounding portraits of nature.
Foreword: This Was a Man, by Stephen Jay Gould
The Editor's Introduction, by John Tyler Bonner

--On Growth and Form [Abridged]

Jan 04, 2011 Stefan rated it it was amazing
this was a great read. insightful. poetic. timeless.
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“…numerical precision is the very soul of science, and its attainment affords the best, perhaps the only criterion of the truth of theories and the correctness of experiments.” 1 likes
“This is a great theme. Boltzmann, writing in 1886 on the second law of thermodynamics, declared that available energy was the main object at stake in the struggle for existence and the evolution of the world.” 0 likes
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