18 December 2007

Three wise men

In a quintessentially British display of royal pomp, Steve Jones, David Attenborough and E.O. Wilson were decorated last Thursday with three specially commissioned silver Linnean Society Tercentenary Medals for 'having made outstanding contributions to the world’s understanding of natural history and the environment'.

From left to right: Professor Steve Jones, Linn Soc president Professor
David Cutler, Sir David Attenborough and Professor Edward O. Wilson

David Attenborough was singled out as 'one of the world’s outstanding communicators of natural history'. In his acceptance speech, he said with characteristic modesty that he 'regarded himself as an amateur rather than a scientist and regretted his lack of involvement in natural history at that level'. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks he has done plenty to earn the moniker of 'scientist' (as have many 'amateurs' ....Charles Darwin for one).

Steve Jones was honoured for his 'achievements in making evolutionary biology accessible to a wide audience'. If you're new to Jones' writing, I recommend Almost Like a Whale, a re-write of Darwin's On the Origin of Species in modern language with modern examples mixed in to further support the original body of work (no Amazon link - support your local bookseller).

Edward O. Wilson was awarded 'for his outstanding achievement in widening our awareness of the complexity of biodiversity'. This one is especially well-deserved. E. O. Wilson could have chosen to settle comfortably into a quiet life of mermecological bliss but instead (or should I say in addition) he has tirelessly waged an eloquent, far-reaching campaign to promote stewardship of Earth's biodiversity.

So, I hope you'll all join me in raising a toast this holiday season to three really wise men.

1 comment:

Sid Leavitt said...

Congratulations to the three distinguished honorees. Would that there were more like them.