Friday, October 18, 2013

Letters to a Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson

Put passion ahead of training

Why I read this book?

While listening to the Nature podcast this April I learned about this book. Needless to say, as a young scientist myself I went to get it immediately. I couldn't read it until know, and boy, was I missing out!

What's the book about?

Edward Wilson is a renowned scientist, particularly in the fields of entomology and sociobiology. He has won several prizes, including a Pulitzer, and in this book he shares his views as how he "made it" in science. From making the decision to work in science through the difficulties of the scientific method, up to that inevitable moment when you doubt yourself, Wilson talks about how he felt, how he confronted different challenges, all while talking directly to the reader

Final thoughts
I took so much from this book. I realised half way through that I was taking a quote from almost every single mini chapter. There were moments when I put the book down and sight deeply because I identified with the struggle he was describing; moments were I felt like tears might be coming because I felt like a sweet grandfather was holding my hand and telling me everything would be ok. The book opens with this line:

                You made the right choice [...] the world needs you --badly. 

 I'm telling you people, some days you really wonder if you did make the right choice, getting into science, because is so easy to get discouraged, with experiments that won't work, people that will doubt the very core of your ideas...but you have to go on, and this book is full of encouragement. I would highly recommend this book to everyone with a career in science, whether they are starting, in the middle or retiring; for these last ones, I'm sure it will bring you fond memories of when you were just beginning in this path. 

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