A road map for tomorrow’s cities
Tagged with “cities” (4)
Which are the world’s biggest cities, and what are their populations? Two simple questions that we discover are surprisingly difficult to answer. Plus, has the world got heavier or lighter since the industrial revolution? It’s a question posed by a More or Less listener that got us wondering, too. Dr Chris Smith, part of a group of Cambridge University researchers, known as the Naked Scientists, reckons he’s worked out the answer. This programme was originally broadcast on the BBC World Service.
As organisms, cities, and companies scale up, they all gain in efficiency, but then they vary. The bigger an organism, the slower. Yet the bigger a city is, the faster it runs. And cities are structurally immortal, while corporations are structurally doomed. Scaling up always creates new problems; cities can innovate faster than the problems indefinitely, while corporations cannot.
These revolutionary findings come from Geoffrey West’s examination of vast quantities of data on the metabolic/economic behavior of organisms and organizations. A theoretical physicist, West was president of Santa Fe Institute from 2005 to 2009 and founded the high energy physics group at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
What are the biggest questions facing our world today? Listen in as some of the brightest minds and leading researchers from a variety of disciplines debate The Next Big Question, in a national series of public meetings sponsored by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research-CIFAR. IDEAS host Paul Kennedy moderates.