Scale: 103 meters = 1 km = 1 kilometer

Golden Gate Park

The largest animal and plant that have ever existed now fit within the central square. This is the last power of ten at which individual living things are identifiable. Recall that living DNA in the form of viruses is first seen at 10-7. So life is found in a range of eleven orders of magnitude. It is difficult to imagine life below the size of the smallest viruses. It is equally difficult to imagine individual living things approaching 1 km on a side. J. B. S. Haldane wrote an essay called "On Being the Right Size" discussing the relationship between volume, surface area, and structure. Since volume increases with the third power and surface area increases with the second power, structure is a strong function of the relation between volume and area.

This image shows about 1/5th of Golden Gate Park. The area shown is centered on the Japanese Tea Garden and includes the Academy of Sciences, the Strybing Arboretum, and several museums.

Copyright © 2016 by Bruce Bryson