D'Arcy - On Growth and Form


D’Arcy Thompson’s most famous work is undoubtedly On Growth and Form, first published during the First World War in 1917. It was his attempt to introduce maths into biology. He believed that more emphasis should be placed on physical laws and mechanics, and less on evolution, when describing the form of a living object. Interestingly, although D'Arcy believed in evolution, he did not agree with Darwin's ideas of natural selection, believing that random variation did not give a good enough explanation. The book stands out as one of the greats largely thanks to the way D’Arcy skilfully combined his knowledge of Biology, Maths, Literature and Languages. Indeed, he made around 1,000 references in languages including Latin, Greek, French, Italian and German.

One hundred years since its release, D’Arcy’s work is still inspiring others. In fact, new branches of both maths and biology have been inspired by his work, including systems biology and mathematical biology. Since the invention of the computer it has become easier for scientists to test D’Arcy’s theories. Arguably the most famous chapter of On Growth and Form is chapter XVII named On the Theory of Transformations, Or the Comparison of Related Forms. In this chapter, D’Arcy explores to what extent related forms can be compared through simple mathematical transformations.

On Growth and Form
On Growth and Form
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

   

Cell-Aggregates

   

All Correspondence Links

Claxton Fidler

   

Eric Harold Neville

   

John Marshall

   

Alfred North Whitehead

   

Charles Robert Darling

   

Peter Guthrie Tait

   

William Peddie

   

Geoffrey Thomas Bennett

   

Dorothy Wrinch

   


Main Index Biographies Index


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HD & BC © July 2017
Copyright information
School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews, Scotland

The URL of this page is:
http://www.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/~dat/