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  1. Sometimes, I look out at nature and I think, ‘Everything here is obeying my conjecture.’ It’s a wonderfully narcissistic feeling.
  2. One of the remarkable things about slums is that they do develop their own social organization and economy and even culture that is, on some level, functional and in some cases, remarkably resilient. This is kind of amazing.
  3. Cities are the origins of global warming, impact on the environment, health, pollution, disease, finance, economies, energy are all problems that are confronted by having cities. That’s where they — all these problems come from.
  4. My provocative statement is that we desperately need a serious, scientific theory of cities and scientific theory means quantifiable, relying on underlying generic principles that can be made in a — put into a predictive framework. That’s the quest.
  5. I’ve always wanted to find the rules that govern everything. It’s amazing that such rules exist. It’s even more amazing that we can find them.
  6. Cities are obvious metaphors for life. We call roads ‘arteries’ and so forth.
  7. We form cities in order to enhance interaction, to facilitate growth, wealth creation, ideas, innovation, but in so doing, we create, from a physicist’s viewpoint, entropy.
  8. The bigger the city is, the less infrastructure you need per capita.
  9. A city plays the role of a great big magnet that’s sucking people up.
  10. The paradigm of physics — with its interplay of data, theory and prediction — is the most powerful in science.
  11. Tell me the size of a mammal and I can tell you, to about 85 per cent level, pretty much everything about its physiology and life history, such as how long it is going to live, how many offspring it will have, the length of its aorta, how long it will take to mature, what is the pulse rate in the ninth branch of its circuitry.
  12. Every fundamental law has exceptions. But you still need the law or else all you have is observations that don’t make sense. And that’s not science. That’s just taking notes.
  13. When I first saw California, it was extraordinary. Because I came from old, black, dark England, still recovering from World War II. I grew up with bomb sites everywhere.
  14. Life is extraordinarily resilient. It’s been around for over a billion years.
  15. Cities tolerate crazy people. Companies don’t.
  16. A human being at rest runs on 90 watts. That’s how much power you need just to lie down. And if you’re a hunter-gatherer and you live in the Amazon, you’ll need about 250 watts. That’s how much energy it takes to run about and find food.
  17. Cities are just a physical manifestation of your interactions, our interactions, and the clustering and grouping of individuals.
  18. Slums could be thought of as the development of a special organ, or they could be thought of as a tumor that’s grown, and in some ways is unhealthy and could ultimately lead to the city’s destruction. My own feeling is that slums are probably a bit of both.
  19. Your cells are not working as hard as your dog’s but harder than your horse’s. The bigger the animal, the less energy needed to sustain a gram of tissue.
  20. Cities are the crucible of civilization.

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