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Good science makes for good story

Youngscientist"Good science is a good story," says the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning biologist Edward O. Wilson in a recent interview on Science Friday with Ira Flatow. "We're all storytellers—all of us. From the novelist to the artist who is trying to say something new and take us in a new direction on canvas, to scientists who have discovered something, and when they discover something they want to tell a story, they want to...explain to others [the] why and where it came from, what kind of process is going on and where is it going to lead?" Dr. Wilson says that he trained himself to be able to explain things simply and clearly in order to keep his students engaged in his lectures at Harvard. I highly recommend his book Letters to a Young Scientist, a book that should prove inspiring and motivating for future young scientists and others interested in science and science education.

In the interview Dr. Wilson touches on many different points concerning what it takes to be a good scientist today, besides being a clear communicator and good storyteller. Two others that speak to me personally are alonetime and self-talk:

"You need a lot of time," says Dr. Wilson. "It's a good idea to be alone a lot and talk to yourself. I don't know if—how many other scientists talk to themselves. I do so all the time silently. And I guess I risk my reputation for complete sanity by admitting that. And I've now wondered how many creative scientists, people who are constantly in search of new ideas, new ways of looking at things, new enterprises, talk to themselves in a way as though they were speaking to another person, and trying to open up new subjects, new ways to get into old subjects. And this is a very good mental process for doing original science." 

Listen to the interview here.

Desktop Diaries: E. O. Wilson
After you listen to the Science Friday interview, take a look at this 6-minute video with Dr. Wilson. Science is an active and creative endeavor, and at 83 Dr. Wilson is still going strong. Inspiring.


Above. Dr. Wilson's office. Click image to go to the video.


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