cover image Letters to a Young Scientist

Letters to a Young Scientist

Edward O. Wilson. Norton/Liveright, $21.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-87140-377-3

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. Agent: Ike Williams, Kneerim, Williams & Bloom. (Apr.)