Essays on Science and SocietyScience & Scilifelab Prize Essay

Size does matter

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Science  05 Dec 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6214, pp. 1191-1192
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa1808

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From Nanoarchaeum equitans, a microbe barely measuring 400 nm across, to Balaenoptera musculus, the blue whale that often exceeds 30 m in length, one of the most distinguishing characteristics of an organism is its size. Animal size is determined by total cell number, which is achieved through cell proliferation. Proliferation in turn depends on cell growth, a process regulated by both genetic and environmental factors.