Sir D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson (1860-1948)
Ulett, Mark A.
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Known by many for his wide-reaching interests and keen thinking, D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson was one of Britain's leading scientific academics in the first few decades of the twentieth century. A prodigious author, Thompson published some 300 papers, books, and articles in the biological sciences, classics, oceanography, and mathematics. He was a famous lecturer and conversationalist-a true "scholar-naturalist," as his daughter wrote in her biography of her father. Of his numerous publications, the acclaimed On Growth and Form (1917, 1945) is generally considered to be his most influential. Many highly respected biologists-like John Tyler Bonner, Joseph Woodger, Sir Peter Medawar, and Stephen Jay Gould-have argued for the importance of On Growth and Form for the history of twentieth century biology. In this work Thompson integrates a causal understanding of biological growth and structure with the mathematics of physical laws. Many developmental biologists have drawn inspiration from reading Thompson's magnum opus, by focusing on this approach to understanding the physical limitations and mathematical processes of developmental growth and morphological form.