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D'Arcy Thompson

AKA D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson

Born: 2-May-1860
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: 21-Jun-1948
Location of death: St. Andrews, Scotland
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh, Scotland

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Biologist, Mathematician

Nationality: Scotland
Executive summary: On Growth and Form

In his seminal book On Growth and Form, mathematician and biologist D'Arcy Thompson presented his "theory of transformation," that a species evolves into another species not through a series of minor changes to various body parts but through large-scale transformations of the entire animal, and that the growth and form of any species of plant or animals can be represented through relatively simple mathematical equations. For example, he used linear and non-linear functions to show how the corresponding bones of similar species are adapted to their function, and morphed images of baboon skulls into the skulls of related species, including other primates and humans. Thorough, literary, and surprisingly readable, Thompson's book has been described as among the finest single books to teach inquisitive readers about biology, chemistry, physics, and the power of creative thought.

Father: D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson (teacher)
Mother: Fanny Gamgee (m. 1859, d. 1860 childbirth)
Mother: Agnes Drury (stepmother, "Amy", m. 1866)
Wife: Ada Maureen Drury (m. 1901, three daughters)
Daughter: Barbara
Daughter: Molly
Daughter: Ruth

    High School: Edinburgh Academy, Edinburgh, Scotland (1877)
    Medical School: University of Edinburgh (attended, 1877-80)
    University: BA Natural Sciences, Trinity College, Cambridge University (1883)
    Lecturer: Physiology, Cambridge University (1883-84)
    Professor: Biology, Dundee University (1884-97)
    Professor: Natural History, University of St. Andrews (1897-48)
    Administrator: Chair of Natural History Dept., Dundee University (1884-88)
    Administrator: Chair of Natural History & Zoology, University of St. Andrews (1888-1948)

    Royal Society of Edinburgh (1885; President, 1934-39)
    Royal Society (1916; Vice President, 1931-33)
    Edinburgh Mathematical Society (1933)
    Knighthood Knight Commander of the Bath (1898)
    Knight of the British Empire (1937)
    Linnean Medal (1938)
    NAS Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal (1942)
    Darwin Medal (1946)
    French Ancestry Maternal
    German Ancestry Maternal
    Irish Ancestry Paternal
    Italian Ancestry Maternal
    Scottish Ancestry

Author of books:
A Bibliography of Protozoa, Sponges, Coelenterata, and Worms (1885, biology)
A Glossary of Greek Birds (1895, biology)
On Growth and Form (1917, mathematics and biology)
A Glossary of Greek Fishes (1945, biology)


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