In 1917 the Scottish polymath, D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, published On growth and form a masterpiece of the application of physics and mathematics to biology. One hundred years later it is still in print. It started the discipline of mathematical biology which is currently an extremely important and fertile area of scientific research.
However it is a book that is not as well-known as it should be. I first came across the book when I was at school, it has fascinated me ever since and in this talk I shall explain why it should be much more widely read. The physics and mathematics will be no more advanced than is found in the school curriculum at age fifteen. We shall explain, amongst other things, why size is important, why shells have the shape that they do and the mechanical efficiency of animal of skeletons.
Alan Davies is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Hertfordshire where he was Head of Department until his retirement. Since then he has spent most of his time working with school pupils and presenting mathematics and science to general audiences of all ages.
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