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Chasing Bugs

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 - 06:17 PM

Ant Ant (It'sGreg/flickr)

Remember the first time you ever saw an ant hill? That parade of black insects pouring in and out of a small sand mound...most of us stopped, looked and then moved on to other parts of the playground. E. O. Wilson is the kid who never took his eyes off the mound.

He grew up to revolutionize the fields of entomology, sociobiology and conservationist thought. E. O. (E is for Edward, O is for Osborne) got a nod from Time Magazine on their list of the 25 Most Influential People in America and picked up a few Pulitzers along the way. But before all that he was just an eight-year-old boy in the South whose nickname was 'Bugs.'

Ed and Robert Krulwich spoke a few years ago at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan about Ed's early insect-philia and how it blossomed. Ed tells Robert about the time he figured out how to make hundreds of ants trace his name and the time he convinced an ant colony one of their ants was dead when it was anything but.

If you like this conversation, stay tuned for Season 5. We are working on a whole show devoted to people falling in (and out of) love with science. Can't wait? Bugs crawling on your skin now? Re-visit Ed and other ant enthusiasts in our Emergence episode.

 

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Comments [6]

Bring out your dead!
I'm not dead!

Aug. 08 2013 06:00 PM
Tyler Rowe from South Lake Tahoe

I think this interview with E.O. Wilson was incredible. It taught me alot just upon listening to the man speak. Plus the humor adds a nice touch. I think your radio show is great and im becoming quite the fan.

Thank you.
-Tyler Rowe

Apr. 25 2011 01:03 PM
Todd

I had to read E.O. Wilson's The Theory of Island Biogeography for my zoology course and that was the first time I hear of him. What we never got from that course though, was the insight that this interview provided into E.O.'s view of how science is studied and explained through stories. This was GREAT and I plan to share it with the teachers and professors I work with.

Dec. 11 2008 12:46 AM
Maggie

Robert Krulwich, you are amazing! An interview with E. O. Wilson can not help but be interesting, but you made it exciting: your enthusiasm is contagious, your choice of anecdotes was a good combination of this and that, your sense of the story to be told is wonderful. Bravo!

Oct. 10 2008 06:10 PM
Andrew

I really enjoyed the lengthy and mostly uninterrupted presentation by Mr. Wilson. Thanks for posting this less edited version.

Sep. 29 2008 12:30 PM
Alan

I can't wait for the new season!

On the one hand, it sounds like the ants blindly follow the pheromone signals as evidenced by the ones carrying the poor live one off to the morgue. On the other hand, the one ant that had the stench of death about him didn't blindly follow the death signal and carry himself off to the morgue, though that would have been amusing. Was the one ant self aware or at least cognizant enough to determine the signal was false? Did it behave normally, or was it constantly searching for a dead corpse due to being covered in the pheromone of death? Or maybe their pheromone receptors are like smell is for humans in that they will become less sensitive to a smell over time to the point that they barely smell it if at all? Or would that hinder them from being able to follow a particular pheromone to food that is a long distance from the nest?

I'm taking an entomology course this semester, which thankfully has a collection requirement, and I can already identify with going to the woods to collect insects, which seems like it would be a socially isolating activity, and becoming more socially acceptable because of it. The passersby are a lot more sociable when I'm collecting insects than when I'm simply out walking because they're curious about what I'm doing. Then you get to share with them all the cool things you've collected.

Sep. 25 2008 08:43 PM

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