At breakfast this morning I learned that E. O. Wilson had died. He was 92 years old. I was a fan of Wilson’s writing and in the last several years, read 4 of his books, including Letters to a Young Scientist, which I thought was fantastic, his memoir, Naturalist, a recent collection Tales from the Ant World, and Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. The latter book was a difficult read and an interesting one. A friend and mentor recommended the book to me more than 20 years ago. I take these recommendations seriously, but don’t always get to them right away. In this case, it took me 20 years before I finally read the book. I have also been slowly making my way through Wilson’s magnum opus, The Ants, which he co-authored with Bert Holldobler.
With me on vacation, in addition to Mel Brooks new book, All About Me, I also planned to read Scientist by Richard Rhodes, a biography of E. O. Wilson. As we left for vacation, I remember thinking that Brooks was 95 and I wanted to read his memoir while he was still around. I got through that book quickly. It never crossed my mind that Wilson wouldn’t make it before I read the new biography. He seemed ubiquitous in the science world.
The world is short of a pioneering scientific mind and that increasingly endangered species, the science popularizer, those who can communicate the wonders and majesty and importance of the scientific world to a lay audience. Wilson was a great communicator of the importance of science, scientific method, scientific thinking, and the wonder of life, right down the ants. I will miss his insightful writing and clear way of thinking.
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