An inspiring work aimed primarily at those interested in pursuing a career in the sciences, Edward O. Wilson's Letters to a Young Scientist is an autobiographical glimpse into the personal life and background of one of our most eminent biologists. One needn't be a student to find value and richness in Wilson's letters, but for young people trying to carve out a direction for themselves, this book could well be a catalyst for reassessing their interests and academic pursuits. The wisdom and advice imparted by this octogenarian thinker is humble but serious, practical but possessed of passion. Wilson provides some historical and introductory accounts of the sciences in general, what science is, the scientific method, and what one could expect from a career in the sciences. Letters to a Young Scientist is a thoughtful, generous offering, and also a plea for a new generation of students to consider a rigorous pursuit of scientific exploration, because, as he says in the prologue, "The world needs you — badly." Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Edward O. Wilson, the evolutionary biologist who has studied social behavior among insects and humans, offers advice to aspiring researchers....A naturalist at heart, he plays down technology, math, even intelligence, proposing that a good scientist should be 'bright enough to see what can be done but not too bright as to become bored doing it.'...delivers deep insights into how observation and experiment drive theory." Jascha Hoffman, New York Times
"The eminent entomologist, naturalist and sociobiologist draws on the experiences of a long career to offer encouraging advice to those considering a life in science....Glows with one man's love for science." Kirkus Reviews
"I want to express my gratitude. Thank you for reminding me and thousands of others why we became scientists. Your book Letters to a Young Scientist is first and foremost a book about passion and the delight of discovery." Bill Streever, New York Times Book Review
"In this fund of practical and philosophical guidance distilled from seven decades of experience, Wilson provides exactly the right mentoring for scientists of all disciplines — and all ages....This is no pompous, deeply philosophical treatise on how great ideas develop. Wilson shares his simple love for ants and their natural history, revelling in them without hesitation. Everything else follows." Nature
"Beautifully written, richly detailed, and practical, [Wilson's] little book should command the attention of anyone who is contemplating a career in ecology or biodiversity — or who 'sometimes daydreams like a scientist.' Along with intellectually curious people everywhere, they will enjoy and profit from Letters to a Young Scientist." Glenn C. Altschuler, Boston Globe
"Inspiring....Ought to be on the shelves of all high school and public libraries." Library Journal
About the Author
Edward O. Wilson is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Social Conquest of Earth and Anthill: A Novel, as well as the Pulitzer Prize-winning On Human Nature and (with Bert Hölldobler) The Ants. For his contributions in science and conservation, he has received more than one hundred awards from around the world. A professor emeritus at Harvard University, he lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.