Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Superorganism

We have not actually read the new book on social insects by Hoelldoebler and Wilson, but it is on our Christmas list. The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies looks to be the latest important volume by these award-winning scientists. Bert Hoelldoebler is Foundation Professor at Arizona State University and has been the recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize and the Leinbniz Prize - Germany's most highly endowed research award. Edward O. Wilson is a Harvard professor with nearly fifty years experience, more than twenty books published, and the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes and the National Medal of Science. The two have teamed up for the second time to explore the world of insects. Eighteen years ago their book The Ants became the definitive scientific study of these diverse creatures. Their latest book expands our knowledge of social insects - ants, bees, wasps and termites. They are identified as superorganisms because they live in tightly knit colonies formed by altruistic cooperation, complex communication, and division of labor. From a scientific and entomological viewpoint, their Superorganism book brings insight to how transitions between levels of evolution have occurred and how life has progressed from simple to complex forms. On a sociological level, perhaps the two scientists give us food for thought on how we interact and function together as humans. 
We would recommend attending a lecture by Hoelldoebler and Wilson tonight, but it takes place in New York City and is sold out. Next best thing: put the book on your Christmas list!


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