Tuesday, February 19, 2008

E. O. Wilson's Wish

Each year, the great TED conference chooses three people who are allowed to make a "TED Prize Wish". The honor comes with a $100,000 check, but more importantly it allows the winner to present his wish to a face-to-face audience of movers and shakers, and records his presentation to disseminate over the Internet.

E.O.Wilson won a TED Prize and made his wish last year. Noting that we know very little about the biosphere, and are destroying it rapidly in spite of our ignorance, he used his wish to ask for help in creating the online Encyclopedia of Life.

Wilson is perhaps the world's foremost expert on ants. His theoretical work on biodiversity and sociobiology has changed biology. He has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for his writings. He is always worth hearing, but seldom more than in this presentation.

As you no doubt know, physicists are increasingly sure that most of stuff of the universe is "dark matter and energy" which we can't detect and don't understand. Wilson pointed out that microbial life is the "dark matter" of the biosphere is microbial life, which we usually can't detect and don't understand.

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