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January 2009
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Geoffrey West

Geoffrey West

I said that some speakers were better than others. The person you cannot see in this picture is Geoffrey West, the best speaker we had. The picture is moved for various reasons: 1 there was little light, so the camera needed extra time; 2 i was feeling already quite ashamed to ask him to take a picture that i did not had the nerve to do it slow enough; 3 his atoms vibrate much faster than up common people, so he sometimes appears blurred at naked eye.

You know that someone is a big guy when you ask him for some references to in deeper on his work and he answers: 'any' of my Nature papers (common researchers are considered big when they have 'a' Nature paper).

His talk was on universal scaling laws in biology. Amazingly interesting. Did you know that the blood pressure in all mammals as it leaves the heart is the same. And the blood travels at 5 meters per second in all mammals? Did you know that the average distance you need to in in a virgin forest before finding a tree of the same size grows with the size of the tree? That is obvious, it is not obvious that it grows linearly with the trunc size. That cells in bigger organism consume less energy, and they do this following a proportion that is linear with the size? That it is possible to write some equations that are valid for 'any' mammalian that link the alone pressure the size of the capillaries, constant, the amount of nutrients released and the amount of energy lost through pumping through a bigger body to predict the rate of growth of an individual and when it will stop? And thus that we all grow in the same way?

Some quotes:
first i need to apologize for, in total contrast with all the speakers that were before, being the only one without ... NO! I am not going to apologize, in fact i am very proud of my old style slides written with this very hand. Here is one that represent for me the complexity of nature, it is the map of the metabolic pathways inside an animal, and if you cannot distinguish nothing it does not matter, it is just very complex.
I can still write equations, although i cannot solve them.
All healthy organisms grow in the same way. We also studied cities, they grow like tumors.
Any 70 kilograms animals consumer 100 watt of energy. Look at those light bulbs and think about the people starving in sudan [but this is serious]
if we consider how much energy a westerner consumes it is like a blue whale. We also produce less children like bigger animals.

I have few doubts that nature will survive us. We might not survive us.