Profile of a Giant
Hero of the Planet visits the Nature Research Center
Nature’s Secrets by Meg Lowman
Destroying a tropical rain forest and other species-rich ecosystems for profit is like burning all the paintings of the Louvre to cook dinner.
E.O. Wilson, Pellegrino University Research Professor in Entomology at Harvard University
The world-acclaimed biologist, Edward O. Wilson, is writing a book for young people called “Letters to a Young Scientist” scheduled for publication in early 2013. Several years ago, Wilson wrote a novel. Although it sounds slightly out of context for one of the world’s top scientific experts on biological diversity, this Harvard University professor has embarked on a desperate quest. He has no time to lose. His urgent mission is to communicate science effectively to the public, especially messages about the astonishing losses of biodiversity on Earth. With some futility, he has tried myriad approaches to garner attention for his mission — novels, scientific writing. university teaching, advising political leadership, religion, creation of a non-profit, a Web-based encyclopedia, a taxing public-lecture schedule, and international acclaim akin to that of a rock star. Now he will use North Carolina’s Nature Research Center (NRC) to address teenagers.
At 1pm on December 13, Wilson will have a virtual conversation addressing students across the state, country and world from the Daily Planet multimedia theater. Musing about the thousands of bacteria that exist in a teaspoon of soil and the millions of creatures inhabiting forest canopies, Wilson will not only host a virtual conversation with teenagers, but also launch his new virtual textbook, Life on Earth, at the Museum’s Citizen Science laboratory. Featuring amazing graphics, this downloadable application (only $1.99 for iPads) can transform users into global scientific explorers.
The NRC Board of Advisors is composed entirely of teenagers. While most institutions engage doctors, leaders, and/or philanthropists as board members, the Teen Advisory Board provides the voice of young people for the Museum’s new wing. They not only endorsed the visit of Wilson as an important voice for biodiversity, but also had a few comments:
- “Biodiversity is important…. And is necessary for proper functioning of the earth.” (Sagar, Wake Early High School of Health & Science, Cary)
- “… Our generation has the potential to discover so much (if we don’t destroy it all first).” (Doug, Enloe High School, Apex)
- “To me, the loss of biodiversity means the loss of many types of life that are essential to earth.” (Meghana, East Chapel Hill High School, Chapel Hill)
- “There are still many species of plants and animals that we do not know much about. What if one of these plants had the potential to cure a disease?” (Lin, Green Hope High School, Cary)
Everyone is invited to speak with EO Wilson about biodiversity at 1pm on December 13 — join in a global virtual conversation by visiting livestream.com/naturalsciences and submitting questions via Twitter at #EOWilson. Your children will thank you!