Biological scaling and physics
Kleiber's law in biology states that the specific metabolic rate (metabolic rate per unit mass) scales as M-1/4 in terms of the mass M of the organism. A long-standing puzzle is the (-1/4) power in place of the usual expectation of (-1/3) based on the surface to volume ratio in three-dimensions. While recent papers by physicists have focused exclusively on geometry in attempting to explain the puzzle, we consider here a specific law of physics that governs fluid flow to show how the (-1/4) power arises under certain conditions. More generally, such a line of approach that identifies a specific physical law as involved and then examines the implications of a power law may illuminate better the role of physics in biology.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Journal of Biosciences
Rau, A. (2002). Biological scaling and physics. Journal of Biosciences, 27 (5), 475-478. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02705043