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A Secret Mathematical Unity to Life

  1. Sep 29, 2007 #1
    Three scientists at the Santa Fe Institute, an interdisciplinary institute in northern New Mexico, took up this question a few years ago and discovered that if you compare elephants to lions to housecats to mice to shrews, you discover that heartbeats vary in a precise mathematical way.

    The mathematical principal is called Quarter Power Scaling and it is described beautifully in

    what ramifications this new quarter-power scaling theory will have on the field overall?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2007 #2


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    It's has no ramifications whatsoever, because it doesn't hold true. It's convenient they selected some species that fit along some pattern, but if they expanded their search just a bit further, they'd find plenty of exceptions. For example, the breed of sheep I work with weight about the same as an adult human, and their heart rate is about the same, but they have a MUCH shorter lifespan. Likewise, a horse weighs about 10 times that, yet only lives one-third to half as long as an average human, but about 3-4 times as long as a sheep.

    It's hardly a new theory anyway. As it is, the article you cited is from 1999. There is a relationship between body size and heart rate, as physiology pretty much demands this, but nothing nearly so precise as that article would lead you to believe.
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