A Summing Up, and a Look Ahead, in Biology

Illustration: A. Canamucio Biology today, though uncovering more and more knowledge at an amazingly rapid rate, is more specialized, fragmented, and incomprehensible to the layperson than ever. Part of this is inevitable, due to the rapid expansion of knowledge brought about by the great advances of molecular techniques. However, disciplinary boundaries are also part of the problem. Could we not try to overcome such obstacles and integrate some of the many strands of knowledge, to see what we mi

Patrick Wigge
Jun 11, 2000

Illustration: A. Canamucio
Biology today, though uncovering more and more knowledge at an amazingly rapid rate, is more specialized, fragmented, and incomprehensible to the layperson than ever. Part of this is inevitable, due to the rapid expansion of knowledge brought about by the great advances of molecular techniques. However, disciplinary boundaries are also part of the problem. Could we not try to overcome such obstacles and integrate some of the many strands of knowledge, to see what we might see?

This was one of the aims of the 51st annual meeting of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) earlier this year. It brought together a group of particularly well-known top biologists, including Stephen Jay Gould, Daniel Janzen, Gene Likens, Lynn Margulis, Gordon Orians, Ghillean Prance, Marvalee Wake, and Edward O. Wilson. Their interests ranged from evolution and biodiversity to developmental biology and behavior, but they all shared unusually broad...

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