Scaling in Biology: Why Size Matters
While biologists seek general principles that explain the common characteristics of all organisms, we too often ignore that most obvious of traits: an organism's size. In this course, we will explore how size determines the form, function, pace and complexity of life. Our questions will span realms from the minuscule (how do bacteria swim?) to the gigantic (is Earth a super-organism?) to the fantastic (what would it cost to feed King Kong?). Living things span an amazing range of sizes, and by using size as a lens for studying life, we will develop a quantitative framework for comparing not just apples and oranges, but bacteria and blue whales. Surreal perspectives on biology such as Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" and films like "A Fantastic Voyage" will further highlight the truly amazing nature of biological reality. No prerequisite.