George C. Williams

George Williams
George C. Williams
was an evolutionary biologist; professor emeritus of ecology

 

was an evolutionary biologist; professor emeritus of ecology and evolution at the State University of New York at Stony Brook; author of Adaptation and Natural Selection: A Critique of Some Current Evolutionary Thought (1966), Sex and Evolution (1975), Natural Selection: Domains, Levels, and Challenges (1992), (with Randolph Nesse, M.D.) Why We Get Sick (1995), andThe Ponyfish's Glow: and Other Clues to Plan and Purpose in Nature (1997).

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Images are bouncing around my head since I learned that George Williams had passed away...

• Meeting him for the first time when with Randy Nesse, who did allthe talking (i.e. never stopped talking) obout their planned book on Darwinian Medicine. Finally, I interrupted Nesse and asked the taciturn Dr. Williams, "Professor, what can I tell publishers about you?" "Well", he replied, "I once wrote a little book for a university press, but it was thirty years ago. It probably won't be of interest to them."

• The memorable mid-nineties lunch in my office. Williams and Richard Dawkins on one side of the table, Niles Eldredge sitting across. The long silences.

• Margulis v. Williams. George Williams, looking like Abraham Lincoln, and ever the gentleman, backed up against a wall being harangued by Lynn Margulis at midnight after my dinner in the 90s in Boston at AAAS.

• On the phone on separate calls: Stephen Jay Gould on line 1, George on line 2, jumping back and forth as they "talked" to each other through me.

A number of Edgies knew George Williams and many more have been influenced by his work. I am asking for your stories and recollections. It's time for an Edgeconversation.