The Annual Charles Simonyi Lecture: 'The future of the planet: life, growth and death in organisms, cities and companies' - Geoffrey West

24 April 2018

The Simonyi Lecture is an annual lecture under the auspices of the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, Marcus du Sautoy. It is not part of the Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures series but its themes and topics touch not only on mathematics but the wider natural sciences and beyond. All are very welcome and there is no need to register.


In this year’s Simonyi Lecture Geoffrey West discusses universal laws that govern everything from growth to mortality in plants, animals, cities and companies. These remarkable laws originate in the networks that sustain life from circulatory to social systems and help us address big, urgent questions from population explosion, urbanization, lifespan and cancer, to the accelerating pace of life and global sustainability. Why do we stop growing and live about 100 years rather than 1000, or just two like mice? Why do we sleep eight hours a day and not three like elephants? Why do all companies and people die whereas cities keep growing? How are these related to innovation, wealth creation, and “singularities”? And is any of this sustainable? 

Geoffrey West is a theoretical physicist whose primary interests have been in fundamental questions in physics, biology and social organizations  West is a distinguished professor at the Sante Fe Institute, where he served as the president from 2004-2008. He is author of the recent best-selling book 'Scale'.