E.O. Wilson on 'Superorganism'
Edward: Bert Holldobler, who will also be talking with you, and I have worked for nearly 40 years together on ants, and Bert’s great contributions have been in the biology of ants, organization of ants’ societies, of communication and the like, and I’ve done a lot of work in that area too, but I’ve been more over into ecology and bio-geography and systematics, so we had a complimentarity in our work together. When Bert finally got fed up in around the late ‘70s with the lack of support for our kind of biology, with all of the major support, big science support at that time was going into molecular biology, cell biology and biomedical research. That’s good. I mean, the more the better, but very little was being dribbled in to the kind of biology we’re doing.
Bert needed a laboratory, you know, comparable to a molecular biology laboratory for the kind of work he was doing, because he was doing microscopy, various forms of analysis, a Doppler laser instrumentation, that sort of thing. And he decided finally, among other reasons including his own origins to go to the University of Wurzburg. So the two of us at this time decided that modestly that between us, we knew everything that was to be known about ants, so I said, “Before you go, before you go, Bert, let’s write a book. We’ll put down everything known about ants.” So that was “The Ants” that’s the title of the book. In 1990 and 1991, it won the Pulitzer. It’s the only book I know of that on science, real science and everyone at Pulitzer.
Then, as time went on, new conceptions about how insect societies are organized, what the evolution of [altruism] is, the importance of self organizing in ant societies have implications for self organizing of complex biological and other systems. All of that began to grow in the ensuing two decades… well, actually, one decade which when we conceived the “Superorganism” and then almost two decades before we got it out. Then, we decided while he was still in Wurzburg that we would do another book that brought together everything mainly known about ants with some of the social insects as well to address, to give the basic information again, but to now address this new, newly conceived and clarified biological problems of social evolution and organization of a society, and that’s why we wrote the “Superorganism.”
Recorded on: December 4, 2008
Prof. E.O. Wilson on his breakthrough follow-up to the Pulitzer-Prize winning book, The Ants.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
- Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
- Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.
- Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
- Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
And you thought red-light cameras were bad. HA!
- The coalition argues that government agencies might abuse facial recognition technology.
- Google and Microsoft have expressed concern about the potential problems of facial recognition technology.
- Meanwhile, Amazon has been actively marketing the technology to law enforcement agencies in the U.S.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.