On Growth and Form (1917), by Sir D'Arcy Thompson
Ulett, Mark A.
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Of Sir D'Arcy Thompson's nearly 300 publications, the theoretical treatise On Growth and Form, first published in 1917, remains the principal work for which he is remembered. This substantial book is still in print today, and merited an editorial review and introductory essays by two important twentieth century biologists, John Tyler Bonner and Stephen Jay Gould. Growth and Form was immediately well-received for both its literary style and its scientific significance, as discussed by the biologist Sir Peter Medawar. Despite being almost continuously in print since its first publication, the exact influence of Growth and Form on the biological sciences, although widely acknowledged, is yet difficult to characterize. In this work Thompson aimed to unite physics and biology through an analysis of the physical limitations to the growth and structure of organisms. For developmental biologists in particular, Thompson's theory on the transformation of biological forms, presented in the final chapter of Growth and Form, was thought provoking.