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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: Bio-who-ia? (for the Week of June 18, 2006)

June 18, 2006

Q. Dear Twig: OK, I'll bite. What's bio ... bio ... phlablahblah? [See last week.]

A. For starters: You spell it biophilia. (Ah! Hard to spell!) And you say it, "BY-oh-FILL-ee-uh." (Ah! Hard to say!)

Think of it, yes, as a funny word. (Ha ha hee!) Though not in the same league as Wankel rotary engine. (Ba ha ha ha ha ha heeeeee!)

And think of it, too, as something else. Think of it as the bond humans feel with other living things (plants, animals, etc.).

A scientist named Edward O. Wilson thought up the word and what it means and even wrote a book about it. He calls biophilia "the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life." People, he says, have an in-born need for, and love of, life and nature.

What do you think? Do you feel that way? Do you feel the bond that he talks about? Yes? No? With a pet? At a zoo? In the woods? Maybe while watching "Animal Planet"?

Loving other living things. Nothin' funny 'bout that! Unless they're monkeys. Monkeys always make me laugh. I sure do like — no, love! — those monkeys!


P.S. Oo! Oo! Oo! Some folks consider E.O. Wilson one of the world's greatest living scientists!

Notes: Read more about biophilia in Biophilia: The Human Bond With Other Species, written by Wilson; and in The Biophilia Hypothesis, edited by Stephen Kellert and Wilson. Called such things as "Darwin's natural heir," "the father of biodiversity" and "one of the 20th century's greatest thinkers," Wilson works at Harvard University. Find two of many articles about him in The Guardian,,4273,4137503,00.html; and at, http:/

About this column: "Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," a free public service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences — specifically, of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, both part of the College — is a weekly column for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. The reading level rates at grades 3.5-4.5. For details, to ask Twig a question and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact the writer, Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691,, (330) 263-3776. Online at

Kurt Knebusch