- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Liveright; 1 edition (April 7, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0871403854
- ISBN-13: 978-0871403858
- Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.7 x 7.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 123 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Letters to a Young Scientist 1st Edition
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*Starred Review* “What is this grand enterprise called science that has lit up heaven and earth and empowered humanity?” Wilson, a foremost authority on ants and biodiversity now in his eighties, has dedicated his life to this “culture of illuminations” in the field and laboratory and as a Harvard professor and best-selling writer. In his newest book, he offers candid guidance and profound inspiration to young scientists. “The world needs you––badly,” Wilson writes, explaining that our very survival depends on our learning enough about life on earth to halt our deleterious impact on the biosphere. “Put passion ahead of training,” Wilson advises, and don’t let a fear of math stop you. Hard work and entrepreneurship, he assures readers, are more important than “native genius.” Practical advice, reflections, and funny and dramatic stories of his own pioneering scientific adventures and breakthroughs make for an enlivening and affecting mixture of memoir, philosophy, and instruction that brings into focus the highest missions of science. Wilson’s celebration of creativity and discipline, love for the living world, and commitment to explicating its wonders and fragility will uplift every reader, no matter her or his calling. Warm, sage, and compelling, this concise and mighty book of wisdom and encouragement belongs in every library. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“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
“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
“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.”
“Inspiring… Ought to be on the shelves of all high school and public libraries.”
- Library Journal
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But there is more, much more: a non-technical introduction into the nature of the grand enterprise Prof. Wilson calls "science" and I, a scholar in the humanities "the quest for truth." As far as I could see, the only major difference between his methods and mine is that natural science allows you to make experiments whereas history does not. That is an important difference indeed--but not one, as Prof. Wilson makes clear, that is unbridgeable or should stand in the way of cooperation.
Finally, at one point in his career Prof. Wilson was almost thrown out of Harvard for expressing his belief that genetics have something to do with human behavior in society. I have had similar problems in my own university, and therefore appreciate the courage he had shown.
Bravo. Please keep writing.
I chose this book because I raised an aspiring entomologist who has just left home for UC Davis. I wanted to see if there was anything I forgot to tell him. I'm sure there is, but Dr. Wilson helps fill in some of the blanks.
Wilson's ego shines through, ("let me tell you a little bit more about me and all I've done")but that serves to reinforce what can be accomplished in a scientific career. I think he has reason to be satisfied with himself.
He is very encouraging about the vast undiscovered reaches of science.
I was just a tad disappointed in his down-playing the importance of math. I firmly believe strong math skills are a vital tool for any scientist. Distilling data is at the core of what they do and how knowledge is advanced. And understanding what all that data means requires a good math mind.
But this book does all I had hoped it would -- it reinforces the dream of my young scientist.
The books are beautiful in their glossy green covers. The back cover features a photo of Wilson (observing an ant colony?) and his accompanying sage advice: "First and foremost, I urge you to stay on the path you've chosen, and to travel on it as far as you can. The world needs you -- badly."
I am disappointed with the new books for these reasons: The books are very small (okay, so they will fit into a pocket in a packsack) and, in time, if they're well-thumbed and read, they'll probably become flexible. But I wish the publisher (W.W. Norton & Co.) would have added pages, and sized the pages a bit larger, so that readers wouldn't bend back the covers and risk breaking the spine.
Section V. Truth and Ethics is brief but powerful. It is my favorite, by far. I only wish that Wilson had encouraged scientists-in-the-making to take courses in writing. His advice to correct errors in reports is important, but how much better reports would be if they were concisely written with coherence and clarity.