The BuzzBuzzHomies love TED Talks. Mind blowing talk after mind blowing talk, sometimes it’s almost too much enlightenment!

We recently came across a particularly intriguing talk that focused on urbanization — a favourite topic of ours to buzz about.
British-American physicist Geoffrey West has created what has been called a scientific theory of urbanization, certainly no small task. He initially set out to identify quantifiable and generic principles that could be used to estimate urbanization in a certain amount of time. However, before he focused on the city, he set his sights on the biology of organisms.
As West notes, the pace of life decreases as you get bigger. “Heart rates are slower, you live longer…,” he says. “The question is,” he explains, “is any of this true for cities?”

West says that the economy of scale applies to cities. Although they have evolved independently of one another, there is something that is universal about urban areas. As a city grows, wealth and incomes increase as do the number of educational institutions, the crime rate, and the number of creative people.
This is the opposite of what occurs with a biological organism, so while cities are made up of people, they don’t behave, biologically speaking, like people.
West takes it a step further by quantifying how much figures like crime rates will rise. He says that doubling the size of a city will increase the wealth, income, crime rate, number of colleges, number of AIDS and flu cases and the amount of waste by approximately 15 per cent, regardless of the city.

A 2010 New York Times article explains that West, along with his colleague Luis Bettencourt, can estimate with about 85 per cent accuracy, a city’s average income and the dimensions of its sewer system. These laws can be used to make precise predictions about statistics like the number of violent crimes in any city. Amazing stuff!

Check out the TED Talk below:

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