Life, Energy, and the Unity of Nature

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** Note special time 1:30p **

SPEAKER: John Whitfield
Science Writer, author of In the Beat of a Heart: Life, Energy, and the Unity of Nature

TITLE: D’Arcy Thompson – Science’s Most Successful Failure

LOCATION: Wednesday, December 19, 1:30p

Lunch will be available for purchase for $5

ABSTRACT: When D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson turned 40 in 1900, he was a frustrated man, stuck working as a marine biologist at a minor Scottish university. By the time he died in 1948, he had been acclaimed by his peers, knighted by the king and, it’s said, offered his pick of chairs in biology, classics and maths. But his real achievement was to weave the strands of his learning into something greater than the sum of its parts. Thompson pioneered the application of maths and physics to biological problems, yielding a new way of thinking about life, and a new type of explanation in biology – breaking a path that the SFI continues to follow. And, refracting these ideas through his classical scholarship, he wrote ‘On Growth and Form’, which has been described as ‘beyond comparison the finest work of literature in all the annals of science that have been recorded in the English tongue’.

About John Whitfield: I’ve got a PhD in the evolution of the soldier caste in aphids (Cambridge, 1997). From there I went to work at Nature in a variety of editorial and writing jobs, until leaving in 2004 to write my first book, ‘In the beat of a heart: life, energy, and the unity of nature’, which came out late last year. Since going freelance, I’ve also written – mostly about ecology and evolution – for Science, Discover, Seed, PLoS Biology and most other people willing to pay me.