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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 June 2009
First published in 1917; revised in 1942 - about 800 and 1100 pages respectively. Those volumes are collector's items by now and perhaps stand as a monument to disinterested curiosity in wartime. This edited Cambridge University version (editor John Tyler Bonner) is about 300 pages and therefore seriously shorter, though the original wording and diagrams were retained as much as possible.

For people unused to this type of material, let me list a few topics (examples only, and simplified!):--

[1] The properties of oxygen - its diffusion in liquids and so on - determine the maximum size of organisms which need oxygen for energy. (I.e. animals rather than plants). Thus insects - which have no heart - are smaller than mammals, for example. Partial pressures of oxygen and nitrogen dissolved in river water have their own controlling influences.

[2] Lengths, areas, and volumes when scaled up are in proportion to l: l squared: l cubed. Thus an internal skeleton, made twice as tall, must support about eight times the musculature of the original skeleton. This sort of thing helps explains thicker bones in large animals - and such things as lung size, and heartbeat rate.

[3] Fish are supported by the surrounding water, and are roughly as efficient irrespective of size. Birds on the other hand cannot fly if their wing size and muscle ratio are too small. Hence birds's sizes have evolved to be very accurately controlled, while fish may grow in size almost indefinitely.

[4] Because of diffraction at the side of a pinhole (i.e. blurring), very tiny eyes cannot have pupils.

[5] Ram's horns grow in a spiral, of a type with keeps the centre of gravity constant. Thus ram's heads bear their load in an efficient manner.

Fascinating stuff which needs some mathematical flair to grasp - though the flair needed is not so much arithmetical and a matter of counting, as geometrical and a matter of appreciation of physics. The material omitted is (I think) on less precise topics, such as water flow in tubes, and the formation of eddies and smoke.

I have one reservation: material on cell structure was edited out by Bonner on the grounds it's outdated. In fact there's overwhelming evidence now that much post-1945 biology of the cell is erroneous. Possibly in time a new comprehensively updated edition will be issued, though it would (probably?) be a work of love rather than profit.
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on 21 April 2007
I heard about this marvellous book as I was reading in the typical popular science literature years ago now but its almost impossible to avoid contact with this tome of the archetypal polymath D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson. A remarkable man with a wonderful open view of science and the, what's now called, interdisciplinarian approach to the world. Refreshingly full of new ideas especially for his day and even now where conservatism as usual is the norm in scientific circles. I hope many scientists read this book and see not just a curiosity but a representation of a whole approach to the world of nature. I will never forget the first time I read the chapter on coordinate transformations in animal shapes, today's schools simply do not inspire in this way and its time this changed. The prescence of this book, well read, on any person's bookshelf is a must.
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on 11 December 2011
This is a very edited version of the original, and unfortunately for me, the chapter I most wanted to read has been omitted.

stanley freedman
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VINE VOICEon 23 March 2007
Peter Medawar called Growth and Form a classic of biological literature. This new edition makes it an accessible classic. Originally it was two volumes and over 1000 pages this edited volume and it was a challenging read. This new edition has kept Thompsons fantastic illustrations and removed some of the failings of the original text updating what is sure to become a classic of "systems biology"
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on 13 May 1999
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 natural history, but which nevertheless naturalists are little accustomed to employ." Thompson's theory of transformations is covered in the last chapter.
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on 12 January 2012
Used this as research for my product design course, his arguements on evolution. and growth were of great value. Some times the book was a little bit too heavy for me as i am not a scientist. But if you are then you should definitley read this.
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on 18 July 2013
The content is good - what I was expecting but I was very disappointed with the condition it is in. The write up said it was in very good condition but it was seriously defaced on several pages including part of the index which will impact on its use and value.

Compared with the condition of all the other second hand books I've purchased this was by far the worse and really not worth the money I paid for it.
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on 15 November 2012
This is a classic work on why animals take the form they do. It explains body forms in terms of their mathematical and physical aspects. It details the effects of scale on many forms of life and concludes that "the forms as well as the actions of our bodies are entirely conditioned (save for certain exceptions in the case of aquatic animals) by the strength of gravity upon the globe" and that's a thought that is fundamental to my own book Dinosaurs and the Expanding Earth. First published in 1917 this work has become so renowned for the poetry of its descriptions that it has been updated and reprinted.
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on 16 January 2014
Enchanting book with exquisite illustrations, a must to read. I would definitely recommend this product and service to a friend. Excellent!
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on 28 November 2015
Great for provoking inspiration when doing subjects about nature and especially plant structures.
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