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Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organizationby Adrian Bejan
Synopses & Reviews
In this groundbreaking book, Adrian Bejan takes the recurring patterns in nature—trees, tributaries, air passages, neural networks, and lightning bolts—and reveals how a single principle of physics, the Constructal Law, accounts for the evolution of these and all other designs in our world.
Everything—from biological life to inanimate systems—generates shape and structure and evolves in a sequence of ever-improving designs in order to facilitate flow. River basins, cardiovascular systems, and bolts of lightning are very efficient flow systems to move a current—of water, blood, or electricity. Likewise, the more complex architecture of animals evolve to cover greater distance per unit of useful energy, or increase their flow across the land. Such designs also appear in human organizations, like the hierarchical "flowcharts" or reporting structures in corporations and political bodies.
All are governed by the same principle, known as the Constructal Law, and configure and reconfigure themselves over time to flow more efficiently. Written in an easy style that achieves clarity without sacrificing complexity, Design in Nature is a paradigm-shifting book that will fundamentally transform our understanding of the world around us.
"The constructal law, as articulated by Duke engineering professor Bejan is relatively simple: systems change over time to maximize the rate of flow through the system. And this high level of efficiency is achieved in similar ways in any dynamic system, whether water flowing through an ecosystem or blood through a body's circulatory system. Bejan makes the controversial claim that the constructal law explains everything in the world, from the evolution of life to the development of human culture, and can predict how things will evolve — toward the ability to move more freely on Earth. But this tediously repetitious book fails to live up to its predictive promise. Nor can Bejan's application of his theory to biology be taken seriously when he says, for instance, that biologists claim that evolution cannot be tested or when he conflates 'evolving' and 'morphing.' Bejan's reductionism achieves a level of grandiosity when he asserts that constructal theory explains all of human history as a movement toward human freedom and the free flow of ideas. His conclusion is strangely Panglossian: 'we can witness many entities morphing — becoming better and better' in this best-designed of all possible worlds. Illus. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
ADRIAN BEJAN is Duke University's J. A. Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
J. PEDER ZANE is an award-winning columnist who has worked for the New York Times and the Raleigh News.
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