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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and Powerful Book
This is simply a great book. The author makes a bold claim about a unifying design principle in nature. When I hear claims like this I'm very skeptical but in this case the author makes a very powerful case. He paints an incredibly beautiful way to see the evolving nature of the entire earth under one simply law of physics he calls the "Constructual Law". He unites...
Published on January 29, 2012 by Book Fanatic

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71 of 76 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not convincing
I really wanted to like this book, with its emphasis on natural design and flow.

The first problem is an introduction that runs on for 26 pages positing constructal law as a universal all-unifying theory, while indulging in generous helpings of self praise and describing past scientists as having stumbled around blindly in preconstructal ignorance...
Published on April 13, 2012 by photon458


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71 of 76 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not convincing, April 13, 2012
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This review is from: Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization (Hardcover)
I really wanted to like this book, with its emphasis on natural design and flow.

The first problem is an introduction that runs on for 26 pages positing constructal law as a universal all-unifying theory, while indulging in generous helpings of self praise and describing past scientists as having stumbled around blindly in preconstructal ignorance.

Dr.Bejan has leveraged his considerable knowledge of mechanical engineering and thermodynamics into regions of science that are not so familiar to him. His descriptions of a tree's function being nothing more than a facilitator of water flow, and the leg length of an athlete being the sole determinate of sprinting performance are both highly simplistic and ill informed.

And that's just the beginning, as constructal law is then forced into strange relationships with all manner of things, sometimes with illustrations that seem to contradict the descriptions. Repetition is rampant in the manner of a high pressure sales job.

I award Dr. Bejan two stars for having caused me to weigh his arguments carefully. His constructal law does seem to have some legitimate applications, but I remain highly skeptical of the universality he so strongly argues for in this book.
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and Powerful Book, January 29, 2012
By 
Book Fanatic (Houston, TX, United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization (Hardcover)
This is simply a great book. The author makes a bold claim about a unifying design principle in nature. When I hear claims like this I'm very skeptical but in this case the author makes a very powerful case. He paints an incredibly beautiful way to see the evolving nature of the entire earth under one simply law of physics he calls the "Constructual Law". He unites inanimate and animate matter and draws predictions and parallels between the massive polar currents, a single fish, the internet, social organization, a tree, a forest, a brain, a river basin, and on and on.

This sounds ridiculous and I would consider it ridiculous if I were you reading my review. Therefore you owe it to yourself if you are a thinking person to read this book. I love books about big ideas and this is about as big as they come. I don't know if he is right and I would love to read critical arguments in other books, but the fact he is proposing this idea right or wrong is important. You will probably never look at the world in quite the same way after reading this book. I don't think I ever will.

Apparently this idea has been discussed over the last 15 years in professional journals and the author is now trying to describe it for the general reader.

Right or wrong this is a must read if you care about big ideas. Two thumbs enthusiastically way, way up for this book.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Is the constructal theory real?, July 27, 2012
By 
Andrew Charig (Princeton, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization (Hardcover)
The book is illustrated with figures and diagrams and documented reasonably. But the theory being presented is of questionable novelty and verity.

Forty years ago my car pool decided we could probably model a traffic jam on fluid dynamics (as it turned out they did at that time), and everyone has noted the similarities between branching in disparate natural phenomena, so the idea is not all that novel.

And is it real? Throughout the book I was looking for some explanation of just how branching of lightning (say) is connected with the branching of waterways (say), and I never quite got it. And why call it "constructal"? What does that mean?

The case would be more convincing if there were fewer errors. Bejan says riverbeds evolve to increase the flow efficiency, but in lowlands rivers develop meanders which greatly increase the length of the course, which introduces much more friction and reduces efficiency. Icebergs do not orient themselves perpendicular to the wind, but parallel to it. Trees do not exist to transport water from ground to air, but to make more of themselves - the only thing any living organism exists for.

Figure 21 is a good example of Bejan's muddling: it is a graph intended to show that flight speed increases with the size of the object, whether natural or man-made, and gives a trend line to show the correlation. This idea is wrong to begin with: a hummingbird flies much faster than a crow that weighs hundreds of times as much, and a jet fighter flies three times as fast as a commercial jet that weights ten times more. There are three things wrong with the plot:

* the curve for natural fliers is nearly flat, and nowhere near the trend line that is supposed to represent it;

* some of the data are wildly mislocated: the speed of an F-15 should be about five times higher than where it is plotted (about 800 M/sec instead of about 120);

* all the data are wildly noisy.

The only thing this graph really shows is that man-made fliers are faster than natural ones. Surprise.

I am still not sure whether the "constructal theory" is a hoax for fun, a fraud for scientific acclaim, or serious science poorly explained.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Ideas are Like Free Food for Hungry Minds, February 23, 2012
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This review is from: Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization (Hardcover)
Previous reviewers have eloquently described Design in Nature, so I will only second their appreciation not only for the book, but the new branch of science that it brings to the larger world beyond the scientific journals.

When two atoms interact, they create a flow. When groups of atoms, say a stream of water, flows down a beach, the resistance of the sand causes the water to push the sand around to crate a changing, evolving pattern, or "design" that seeks to make the flow more efficient. We have all seen it in action. The entire physical world is governed by such evolving flows, from the structure of the universe to the flow of information on post-it notes. This is the Constructal Law.

It is said that important new theories take a generation to become established, until a new crop of students has grown up with it and the old guard have died off. But this evolution of idea-flows is not linear - rather it proceeds by tectonic shifts. Indeed, 70 years ago, 99.9% of geologists were convinced that the continents were fixed and immovable, as assumed for hundreds of years. Alfred Wegner knew different and his theory of continental drift made predictions that were so powerfully correct that today plate tectonics is understood by everyone as a simple fact of life.

I believe that in 50 years (optimistically for myself...) we will look back at the insights of Dr. Bejan in the same light. He has formulated an idea that makes concrete predictions which are born out by experiment and observation and which conform with all understood laws of physics. But we are at the beginning, like Galileo with his first telescope.

The Constructal Law opens a window on our understanding of the nature of physical reality that will energize your mental model as it has mine. But it is for the coming generations of scientists to flesh out the future and astound us with their understandings, as Shockley's invention of the transistor and Gordon Moore's elaboration of the integrated circuit did for semiconductor physics.

For the inquisitive mind, Design in Nature is not a singular event, like the latest Tom Clancy novel. Rather, it is an invitation to exploration, conversation and invention. As Dr. Bejan says, "Good ideas are like free food for hungry minds."
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Weak indeed, April 17, 2012
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Must agree with the criticisms prevailing against this so-called Constructal Law - despite many early claims in the book that the theorem can be objectively validated, and some attempts to snow the reader with a few formulae to describe some of the examples presented, there is no rigor in the quantification of this theorem as applicable and or useful as the author has declared. Skip the book, for in any case the self aggrandizing tone of the author will gnaw on your patience in any case.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars neat idea but author's tone ruins the book for me, June 9, 2012
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This review is from: Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization (Hardcover)
Some interesting ideas in here but it doesn't seem like the author's premise qualifies as a "Law". The author's tone is preachy to the point of being cult like and I find his easy dismissal of years of biological research and debate to be insulting to say the very least. I think this is typical when engineers and physicists try and get into Biology. they often appear as though they alone can see what so many others cannot while in reality they are just interrupting a conversation that has been going on for years. With a few small exceptions most of the ideas in this book I have encountered already in other books on bio mechanics, animal physiology, and evolution. The author's lack of skepticism concerning his own ideas leads me to believe that he's more of a professor of engineering than a scientist. I'd like to finish this book but I'm starting to feel like there are other authors that are more deserving of my time and energy. Kinda disappointing.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-read for any horizontal thinker, February 26, 2012
By 
J. Dietsch (United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization (Hardcover)
If you spend your life seeking patterns and context, this book will make you feel that you are on the right path. The author is a mechanical engineer and views the world in terms of flow, whether nature, machine, knowledge or society. He has written more technical versions for those with a mathematical bent. Though he overestimates the validity of his imprecisely enunciated theory, calling it a law, he provides many supporting examples of its predictive ability. He also oversteps by saying that his theory shows that no creator is necessary. Actually, it only moves the question of the creator back a step to "what is the source of constructal 'law'?" Nevertheless, despite these caveats, this is a foundational book for systems thinkers.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Seriously?? Laughably inaccurate and ridiculously arrogant., September 13, 2012
By 
Chip Hunter "chips_books" (Gainesville, FL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization (Hardcover)
I picked up this new book prepared to be disappointed. A unifying principle of everything that evolves!! A brand new scientific LAW!! With claims like these, surely there would be some acknowledged limitations or boundaries for application of this theory. Not at all. Instead of carefully ushering their supposedly unique idea into the mainstream of scientific and engineering thought, the authors use this book as a bludgeon to sell their "law", making such grand claims and proclamations as to be ridiculous. Indeed, the incredulity with which I read this book never ceased. The authors somehow continued to up the ante, their claims becoming more and more grand from chapter to chapter.

The Constructal Law basically says that things change to become more efficient. Both living and non-living things evolve in predictable ways over time. Rivers change to move water efficiently, animals evolve to compete and survive and breed more effectively, human designs change over time to work more smoothly and efficiently. Basically, the Constructal Law is nothing more than a reduction of the laws of Thermodynamics along with an outline of what we all intuitively know. Bejan wants to make the case that his Law can help guide scientists and engineers in designing their experiments and machines. In the introduction of the book, he paints a picture of past scientists and engineers helplessly bumbling around without the guiding light of his Constructal Law. I can appreciate a person trying to convince his audience of his views, but these attempts come off as the most extreme sort of arrogance, and really distract from the central point.

If the authors could have stayed in bounds, and limited their ideas to the original intentions, this book could have been decent. The Constructal Law can predict shape and size of many natural and man-made objects, from river basins to the architecture of tree branches to highway layouts in busy cities. These parts of the book were interesting and made sense. Unfortunately, the authors couldn't restrain themselves from taking it to the next level. Much of the book was dedicated to convincing the reader that the Constructal Law provides the missing link for "proof of the unification of the oneness of nature." The authors argue that life itself has evolved principally as a mechanism for moving matter around the earth. They view trees as having evolved as machines for moving water from the earth to the atmosphere. Animals as machines for moving matter through the oceans and over the land. These are radically backwards from the more traditional views of evolution, and require a massive stretch of the imagination to arrive at.

As another reviewer noted, this book comes off sounding like a deliberate joke at times. From outlandish claims to having the facts wrong, most readers with any background in science will find themselves wondering how the authors can get away with this. The Constructal Law really predicts that "Biological life should evolve to make the whole Earth flow more easily"? Can we really say that "the similarity in density between animals and water helps us see the evolutionary connection between the animate and inanimate world"? I hope you know that plants didn't evolve as tools for the Earth to move water from the ground to the air. And their "pores" don't open to capture sunlight, nor do their branches grow towards areas of the driest air. I'm not sure where the authors got such ideas, but they obviously didn't consult with a biologist before penning this embarrassment.

Instead of highlighting a "unifying principle for all evolving phenomenon", this book comes off a laughable. What a ridiculously arrogant book. Not recommended.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book, January 24, 2012
This review is from: Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization (Hardcover)
This is a fabulous, most interesting presentation of the unifying power of the constructal law as a law of physics.

Bejan shows the readers how to use the constructal law in order to predict and make sense of the natural phenomenon of design generation and evolution, from biology and geophysics to social dynamics, art and engineering. It is a must read for all students in the sciences, and a wake up call for all the professors.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book, January 25, 2012
This review is from: Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization (Hardcover)
This book unites every law from biology to geophyics, art with Constructal Law that is a law of physics. Every growth, evolution, advance and development are following Oneness of Constructal law, although they seem different. I strongly recommend this book to students and researchers who are engaged in engineering, natural science, even social science and art. Readers will understand how every law is united on the same basis and why Constructal law is the superlatives.
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