James Brown,, Brian Enquist, Geoffrey West

Paper #: 99-07-047

The existence of fractal-like networks effectively endows life with an additional fourth spatial dimension. This is the origin of quarter-power scaling which is so pervasive in biology. Organisms have evolved hierarchical networks which terminate in invariant units, such as capillaries, leaves, mitochondria, and oxidase molecules, which are independent of organism size. Natural selection has tended to maximize both metabolic capacity by maximizing the scaling of exchange surface areas, and internal efficiency by minimizing the scaling of transport distances and times. These design principles are independent of detailed dynamics and explicit models and should apply to virtually all organisms.