D’Arcy Thompson matriculated at the University of Edinburgh in 1878 to study medicine, however only stayed there for two years before deciding to move to the University of Cambridge to study zoology.
His two years at Edinburgh still proved worthwhile however as it is here where he gained a lot of his science and maths knowledge. One particular influence was physicist Peter Guthrie Tait (18311901).
On the first page of On Growth and Form, D’Arcy mentions that Tait was one of the people who stressed the importance of the mathematical aspect of physics.
He is also later referenced in a discussion about cellsize :
In the case of a soapbubble, by the way, if it divide into two bubbles the volume is actually
diminished, while the surfacearea is greatly increased.
(Tait 1866)
D’Arcy’s test scripts from Tait’s class at Edinburgh (ms47908, dated 1877) are in the Special Collections
Library in St Andrews. His solutions clearly show his talent for science and several answers relate very closely to
the ideas discussed in On Growth and Form. For example on soapbubbles and grease: drops of soap bubbles tend
to assume a spherical form i.e to contract the surface as much as possible.
; drops of grease are pulled out all
over the surface of a liquid whose surface tension is greater than their own.
About Joseph Plateau and his experiment
D'Arcy's test script for Tait's class
Introduction

Overview & D'Arcy's Life

On Growth and Form

Heilmann & Shufeldt

Maths of Transformations

Correspondence

D'Arcy and Mathematics

Coordinate Transformations

Logarithmic Spirals

Forms of Cells

Forms and Mechanical Efficiency

Shrinkage

Wartime and D'Arcy

The Leg as a Pendulum

Recreational Maths

Fibonacci Sequence

CellAggregates

Claxton Fidler

Eric Harold Neville

John Marshall

Alfred North Whitehead

Charles Robert Darling

Peter Guthrie Tait

William Peddie

Geoffrey Thomas Bennett

Dorothy Wrinch



The support of The Strathmartine Trust towards this website is gratefully acknowledged
Alice Gowenlock & Indre Tuminauskaite © June 2018 Copyright information  School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews, Scotland 
The URL of this page is:
http://www.mcs.stand.ac.uk/~dat/