E.O. Wilson’s latest book, Letters to a Young Scientist, has garnered tremendous interest and discussion since its publication last month. Yesterday Dr. Wilson visited with On Point host Tom Ashbrook live in the studio at WBUR, Boston’s NPR station, for a wide-ranging and fascinating discussion about the ideas behind his book.
Listen to the interview below, or on the “On Point” website.
Edward O. Wilson has distilled sixty years of teaching into his new 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. Letters to a Young Scientist, like all of his books, bears Wilson’s distinctive voice and his ability to traverse disciplines and communities (while quoting from Vladimir Nabokov, Jimmy Cagney, and Floyd Patterson along the way) to convey big ideas.
Also of interest: E.O. Wilson on Reddit’s AMA (Ask Me Anything), May 15, 2013