D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1966, 1961; originally published 1917, English
Nonfiction, General
ISBN: 9780521066235

From the Publisher. Looks at the way things grow and the shapes they take. Analyzing biological processes in their mathematical and physical aspects, this historic work, first published in 1917, has also become renowned for the sheer poetry of its descriptions. A great scientist sensitive to the fascinations and beauty of the natural world tells of jumping fleas and slipper limpets; of buds and seeds; of bees’ cells and raindrops; of the potter’s thumb and the spider’s web; of a film of soap and a bubble of oil; of a splash of a pebble in a pond.

On 4 book lists
Stanley Abercrombie

Although it was first published almost a century ago and offers finer details than most of us need, this is a fundamental and poetically written book about the material world for which we must design—about how things grow and why they take the shapes they do, about weakness and strength, speed and size, symmetry and asymmetry, and the partitioning of space. I recommend the 1961 Cambridge University Press abridged edition.

James Biber

Another link between my biology studies and architecture is this mathematical study of form in nature. All the famous examples, plus many, many more and a deep mathematical analysis of every one of them.

Jeanne Gang

The power of keen observation of natural phenomena informs this influential book, which stresses the ways in which structure and mechanics play a role in how living things find their form. What structure junky could resist discussions of spherical tetrahedrons, soap bubbles, or the delicate skeletal patterns found in radiolaria? Even though the science behind it has since been updated, Thompson’s book remains full of wonders.

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