Sketching the Universe - Conference

A multi-disciplinary conference celebrating the legacy of D'Arcy Thompson

Saturday 4th September, Baxter Conference Room 1.36, Tower Building, University of Dundee


As Richard Dawkins has observed, "D'Arcy Thompson was surely one of the most erudite scientists ever." His 1917 classic On Growth and Form was written in Dundee but has had an international impact. In applying the laws of mathematics to the world of biology, D'Arcy hoped to provide "the first outlines for a sketch of the Universe". This conference will explore the legacy that D'Arcy's work has had across numerous disciplines, including biology, mathematics, geography, ecology, anthropology, art and design.


10am Registration and refreshments (Lamb Gallery)

10.30am Welcome
10.40am Matthew Jarron (Museum Services, University of Dundee): D'Arcy Thompson's Growth and Form in Dundee
11.10am Dr Neil Paterson (Botanic Garden, University of Dundee): D'Arcy and Darwin - natural selection and its enemies
11.40am Dr Edward Juler (Department of Art History, University of Edinburgh): An Invaluable Sourcebook of Design - the popularisation of the new biology and the artistic reception of On Growth and Form, 1929-39

12.00pm Lunch (Lamb Gallery)

1.00pm Professor Alan Werrity (School of Social & Environmental Sciences, University of Dundee): Reconceptualising space - Geography, Cartograms and D'Arcy's Method of Transformations
1.30pm Dr Patrick Randolph Quinney (Centre of Anatomy & Human Identification, University of Dundee): D'Arcy Thompson and the Foundations of Virtual Anthropology
2.00pm Dr Keith Skene (College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee): The Energetics of Transformation - a functionalist perspective

2.30pm Break for refreshments (Lamb Gallery)

3pm Professor Bill Harvey (Obvis and University of Exeter): The Built and the Natural Environment - D'Arcy Thompson in the developing world of engineering
3.30pm Professor Seaton Baxter (Centre for the Study of Natural Design, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design): The Dynamical View of Natural Form
4pm Dr Jim Stewart (School of Humanities, University of Dundee): Homage to D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson (poetry reading)

4.15pm Reception in the D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum, Carnelley Building

Attendance at the conference is free but booking is essential on 01382 384310 or by email. There is an optional buffet lunch for 10 pounds - bookings for this must be received by 5pm on 27 August. Payment can be made on the day or you can send a cheque payable to University of Dundee to Museum Services, University of Dundee DD1 4HN.

The conference is being organised as part the D'Arcy 150 anniversary celebrations. The event is preceded on Thursday 2nd September at 5.30pm by a public lecture by Professor Martin Kemp (University of Oxford) entitled Splashing Around: Themes from D'Arcy Thompson in the Visual Arts, which conference delegates are welcome to attend. This will mark the opening of an exhibition in the Lamb Gallery of historic and contemporary artistic responses to D'Arcy's writings and collections.

There are also D'Arcy displays currently showing at Discovery Point and Sensation: Dundee's Science Centre. Delegates are also invited to attend a 'town and gown' event at the University of St Andrews on Friday 3rd September, featuring a variety of speakers including Emeritis Professor of Natural History, Peter Slater. This begins at 2pm in Lecture Theatre D, Bute Building - there is no need to book.

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