May 2, 1860 - June 21, 1948
From Today In Science History:
Thompson was a Scottish zoologist and classical scholar noted for his influential work "On Growth and Form" (1917, new ed. 1942). It is a profound consideration of the shapes of living things, starting from the simple premise that "everything is the way it is because it got that way.'' Hence one must study not only finished forms, but also the forces that moulded them: "the form of an object is a 'diagram of forces', in this sense, at least, that from it we can judge of or deduce the forces that are acting or have acted upon it.'' One of his great themes is the tremendous light cast on living things by using mathematics to describe their shapes and fairly simple physics and chemistry to explain them.
Almost every paleontologist has used Thompson's ideas at some time in their career while trying to figure out how the creature they're studying evolved its odd shape or feature.
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