Another Memo to Physics List

[ something I sent earlier today ]

I see implications for physics pedagogy in the pages of Scale, which reintroduces “Social Physics” with some mathematical patterns based on scaling.

Creatures tend to have the same lifespan, in heartbeats. What’s the ratio of weight to metabolism?

Super and supra-linear relationships kick in. Logs everywhere.

Similar patterns characterize the life cycle of

(a) companies and

(b) cities (with the latter proving longer-lived, but why?).

The author, Geoffrey West, is a physicist.

The book was given or lent me by my Institute for Engineering and Public Policy friend Terry B., who works within his network to shape more of a professional identity for engineers than merely “applied scientist” (too derivative).

As we all know, recruiting a next generation of dedicated adherents, to whatever discipline, may be daunting. What’s in vogue today is out of fashion tomorrow.

I’m glad to see “Social Physics” gaining momentum in the wings, and all these exponential laws relating to fractional dimensions and so on. Santa Fe Institute (SFI) fingerprints, one might say. Keeps alive a strong heritage.

Portland State has a Systems Science PhD program that probably has this book on a syllabus already (I’ll ask next time I talk to ‘em).

Kirby Urner
Portland, Oregon

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