The Zoomable Universe: An Epic Tour Through Cosmic Scale, from Almost Everything to Nearly Nothing by Scharf Caleb

The Zoomable Universe: An Epic Tour Through Cosmic Scale, from Almost Everything to Nearly Nothing by Scharf Caleb

Author:Scharf, Caleb [Scharf, Caleb]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published: 2017-10-17T04:00:00+00:00

A mouse and a whale contemplate each other across two orders of magnitude in scale.

Representation of a neuron cell body

Somehow, a regular and straightforward law emerges across all those assembled biological cells in radically different species and sizes. Other characteristics in biology also show surprising regularity. For example, the ways in which life spans, growth rates, and physical sizes scale with one another also exhibit simple mathematical relationships.

How can this be? It’s a fair bet that these are all manifestations of optimization, driven by natural selection favoring organisms that, putting it crudely, do the best with what they’ve got. But it works because a complex system of many parts can operate and cooperate across many scales.

The same is true in the collective behavior of multicellular organisms. They often form groups, herds, flocks, schools, or swarms. These gatherings behave like new types of entities with their own emergent laws. Their member creatures may each follow simple rules, but en masse they generate unexpected forms of cooperation as they move through the world.



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