My review of D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson's classic, just as posted to a BBS a long time ago.
=========================================================================== Date: 01-11-95 (00:21) Number: 5093 P.& A. BBS From: BRIAN CHANDLER Refer#: NONE To: ANDREAS BRAEM Recvd: NO Subj: More paper formats Conf: (16) Q&A --------------------------------------------------------------------------- I spent most of today on one train or another, in the pursuit of a rather pointless meeting. In the process, I finished "On Growth and Form", by Wentworth D'Arcy Thompson (1860-1948), in the Canto reprint (=cost reasonable) 1991 with a foreword by Stephen Jay Gould, of the 1961 edition abridged by John Tyler ("slime-mould") Bonner to 330 pages, from the first edition of 793 pages in 1917 and second enlarged edition of 1116 pages in 1942. THIS IS A WONDERFUL BOOK. READ IT! It is a bit hard in places, because D'AT was a classics scholar on the side, so he leaves bits of Latin and Greek in, plus quite a few slabs of French, and smidgens of German and Italian. But like (SJ) Gould, he can use difficult words yet basically make his meaning clear and simple. (It's quite a relief though to see that he obviously can't read Russian.) I read today about "spirals" (i.e. helical spirals) and gnomons. How a ram's horn is shaped, and why it is like umpteen molluscs and bits of plant construction. I bought a maku-no-uchi [box lunch] in Shiojiri, and there was a demonstration: the coiled-up shoot of a young Bryophyte. [This is an error. I meant Pteridophyte.] A gnomon is a shape which, added to shape A makes shape A', where A' is just an enlarged form of A. So in a snail's shell, the last glump, or last bit of growth, is a gnomon which, added to last year's shell makes this year's shell, *and*both*shells*are*similar*figures*. D'AT sadly did not see the full glory of Churman-thinking-applied-to-the-world. Here he is... There are other gnomonic figures more curious still. For example, if we make a rectangle (Fig. 77) such that the two sides are in the ratio of 1 : root(2), it is obvious that, on doubling it, we obtain a similar figure; for 1 : root(2) :: root(2) : 2; and each half of the figure, accordingly, is now a gnomon to the other. Were we [ah!!!] to make our paper of such a shape (say, roughly, 10 in. x 7 in.), we might fold and fold it, and the shape of folio, quarto and octavo pages would be all the same. Three books lead me back to this one: the biography of Turing, who towards the very end of his life became very interested in embryonic development, and the two engineering books (also wonderful reads) by J.E. Gordon. Authors can only be inspired by earlier authors, and I now find myself wanting to know more about Oliver Wendell Holmes who, my Conc. Ox. Comp. to Eng. Lit tells me, was an American writer and physician (1809- 94) and famous contributor to the Atlantic Monthly. --- * SLMR 1.05 * Do not fire used batteries from a cannon.
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