E. O. Wilson once gave a talk at my undergrad university about Charles Darwin. I don’t really completely remember why Professor Wilson was talking about Darwin. I think it might have to do with his contribution to a collection of Darwin’s works, From So Simple a Beginning: Darwin’s Four Great Books (Voyage of the Beagle, The Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals). As an aside, Florida State University is notable for keeping a pretty solid relationship with Wilson. If I remember, Wilson either said something about it being the most beautiful campus or that he really liked that it was full of ants and flip-flop wearing college kids who often get attacked by ants; probably the former. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if Wilson did a semi-retired professorship at FSU. Professors such as Sir Harry Kroto (good ol Knight of buckyball)
like to do that because of the weather and genuine beauty of the place.
Anyway, his birthday was the same week that he gave the talk. A lifetime friend of mine, we’ll call her Mensing-san, caught wind that there was a party at some professor’s house. So, being the rebellious undergrads we were, we obviously had to crash it and ask him lots of questions about the evolution of consciousness and crayfish.
I took this picture of him receiving his cake in all his joyousness. The cake is, of course, decorated by the very ants his lab first genetically modified to permit growth to cosmic sizes in order to more easily extract pheromones for societal studies. I shook his hand and told him I studied biochemistry and he told me he knew people who studied biochemistry. We then talked about how much we both think flip-flops are like the contaminating RNase of footwear and how those college kids with eaten up feet are undeserving of sympathy… maybe. Definitely the first part is true, about him knowing people who studied biochemistry, but that didn’t really stick out to me as being noteworthy enough for ending a paragraph.
In any event I still feel that this is truly a picture worth appreciating, of course. Who would have thought that famous philosophers of biology might be the sort to get so excited about cake?
Oh yeah, then he read an excerpt from his novel, Anthill: A Novel. I think it’s sort of like a pseudo-autobiography with a Frog-man and some kid that is obsessed with ants.