Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies

Life is probably the most complex and diverse phenomenon in the universe, manifesting an extraordinary variety of forms, functions, and behaviors over an enormous range of scales. It is estimated for instance that there are more than eight million different species of organisms on our planet, ranging in size from the smallest bacterium weighing less than a trillionth of a gram to the largest animal, the blue whale, weighing up to a hundred million grams. If you visited a tropical forest in Brazil you’d find in an area the size of a football field more than a hundred different species of trees and millions of individual insects representing thousands of species. And just think of the amazing differences in how each of these species lives out its life, how differently each is conceived, born, and reproduces and how it dies. Many bacteria live for only an hour and need only a tenth of a trillionth of a watt to stay alive, whereas whales can live for over a century and metabolize at several hundred watts. Add to this extraordinary tapestry of biological life the astonishing complexity and diversity of social life that we humans have brought to the planet, especially in the guise of cities and all of the remarkable phenomena they encompass, ranging from commerce and architecture to the diversity of cultures and the innumerable hidden joys and sorrows of each of their citizens.

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