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Monday, April 22, 2024

EO Wilson, dies at 92: Modern-day Darwin, US Scientist, biologist and Harvard professor

Edward. O. Wilson was an award-winning biologist and longtime Harvard University research professor, considered the world's leading authority on ants and their behavior.

Edward. O. Wilson, the next US scientist, professor and author of his study of insects and the explicit call to protect the Earth that made him the “natural heir of Darwin,” has died at the age of 92.

Wilson, whose death was announced on Monday by his organization, is an award-winning biologist and long-time research professor at Harvard University, regarded as the world’s foremost authority on ants and their behavior.

When an entomologist began his career, he expanded his scope, not only teaching insects but also the social interactions of birds, mammals and humans, and effectively – and in opposition – he established a new field of science known as sociobiology.

He was the author of hundreds of scientific papers and more than 30 books, two of which won him the Pulitzer Prize for lying: “On Human Nature” of 1978 and “The Ants” in 1990.

“Ed’s joy was a great joy in the pursuit of knowledge,” said Paula Ehrlich, president of E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and founder of the Half-Earth Project.

“The endless mix of ideas, his bold scientific focus and poetic voice have changed the way we understand ourselves and our planet.

“His biggest hope was that students everywhere would share his passion for discovery as the ultimate scientific foundation for managing our planet in the future.”

Wilson, who died Sunday Mass in Massachusetts, was renowned for his progress in conservation, and he advised science and conservation organizations.

Time magazine over two decades ago described him as “one of the greatest scientific achievements of the 20th century,” as he highlighted his work on the behavior of ants in society and showed that their colonies communicate with a chemical system today known as pheromones.

But his job of tracking was not without controversy. In his 1975 textbook “Sociobiology,” he set out his theory of animal behavior, which gained considerable popularity among some scientists.

In the last chapter, however, Wilson created an uproar by arguing that human behavior is deeply rooted in genetics, and that people have developed a tendency toward such issues as gender equality, nationalism, male domination, and the bondage of parents and child.

But his strong reputation as a respected authority in the universe remained the same.

Steven Pinker, a psychologist at Harvard, said he was saddened by the death of a colleague who called him a “great scientist.”

“We did not agree on some things, but it did not affect his generosity and his willingness to participate,” Pinker tweeted.

In the years that followed, Wilson spoke at length about the need to care for the environment, warning that there would be chaos and devastation if people did not change their ways.
“Biodiversity (s) are rapidly being destroyed as a result of human activity,” he said in a 2014 study at Duke University. “And losses will bring great value to wealth, security and peace, unless we constantly focus on them.”

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