Pulitzer Prize–winning biologist Edward O. Wilson imparts the wisdom of his storied career to the next generation.
Edward O. Wilson has distilled sixty years of teaching into a book for students, young and old. Reflecting on his coming-of-age in the South as a Boy Scout and a lover of ants and butterflies, Wilson threads these twenty-one letters, each richly illustrated, with autobiographical anecdotes that illuminate his career—both his successes and his failures—and his motivations for becoming a biologist. At a time in human history when our survival is more than ever linked to our understanding of science, Wilson insists that success in the sciences does not depend on mathematical skill, but rather a passion for finding a problem and solving it. From the collapse of stars to the exploration of rain forests and the oceans’ depths, Wilson instills a love of the innate creativity of science and a respect for the human being’s modest place in the planet’s ecosystem in his readers.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning Harvard biologist Wilson (On Human Nature) muses on the nature of scientific investigation, his illustrious career, and what it takes to be a scientist in this thoroughly enjoyable collection of faux epistles. Though the frame feels a little unnecessary, Wilson covers plenty of fertile ground. He's at his best when lucidly articulating why science is so very important, and not just in terms of cures or curiosities: "Science is the wellspring of modern civilization. It is not just another way of knowing,' to be equated with religion or transcendental meditation." In addition to these broader defenses of the discipline, he also offers practical advice on framing scientific hypotheses and the importance of collaborative work, as well as personal reminiscences tales of his early years as a Boy Scout naturalist in Alabama, for example, add a richness and intimacy to the book. Critically aware of his and his successors' moments in time, and what kinds of problems the next generation of scientists will be dealing with (e.g., environmental issues), Wilson ultimately offers an encouraging call to arms: "Time is growing short... you are needed." 21 illus.