Notebooks from New Guinea: Reflections on life, nature, and science from the depths of the…

Paperback | July 21, 2011

byVojtech Novotny

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This is a unique and delightfully engaging account by a leading tropical biologist of doing science at one of the last wild frontiers in the world. Vojtech Novotny is a highly respected Czech scientist. His widely cited work, of profound importance to ecology and evolution, is not done, likemuch modern science, in a lab full of gleaming apparatus. Instead, he chose as his "laboratory" the remotest parts of Papua New Guinea, where he has established a research station. Supported by a team of Papuans whom he has trained up so that they can combine their wide and intimate knowledge of theplants and animals of their tropical forest with the knowledge of modern science, Novotny studies the ecological interactions of butterflies and plants. Clearly this is no ordinary scientist. Combined with his intrepid courage (PNG is one of the most dangerous places on Earth, with a very high homicide rate), he is a shrewd observer of human nature. In the richly varied notes and reflections of this very individual volume are not only descriptionsof natural history and scientific research in the rainforest, but accounts of the local peoples and their culture, the challenges of working across very different cultures, and amusing portraits of the antics of Western tourists, separated by a few "intermezzi" - episodes when the author foughtbouts of malaria. Novotny is that rare combination of excellent scientist and superb storyteller. The faithful translations by David Short bring these notes and reflections on science, nature, and human beings to a wide audience, without any loss to their richness, warmth, humility, and wisdom. The volume isillustrated with beautiful drawings by a self-taught Papuan artist, Benson Avea Bego, who lives in a remote village.

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This is a unique and delightfully engaging account by a leading tropical biologist of doing science at one of the last wild frontiers in the world. Vojtech Novotny is a highly respected Czech scientist. His widely cited work, of profound importance to ecology and evolution, is not done, likemuch modern science, in a lab full of gleamin...

Vojtech Novotny is a tropical biologist. He is Professor of Ecology at the University of South Bohemia and the Head of the Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology at the Biology Center of the Czech Academy of Sciences in the Czech Republic. He is leading an international team of researchers studying relationships between plants ...

other books by Vojtech Novotny

Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pagesPublished:July 21, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199609640

ISBN - 13:9780199609642

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Table of Contents

By Way of Introduction: How I got to Papua New Guinea...and what came nextMalaria intermezziIsland of a thousand tongues and a wild, wild landscapeDon't go talking to the neighbours!Tok Pisin, or lingua franca the Papuan wayThe magic number of 500The rise of folkloreNew Year's Eve among the nativesMalaria intermezzo: Mabura Hill, 1997Buy the Book of Books, we have no otherLucky seventeenThe age of darknessThe character of a New Guinea townWishing you a pleasant flight with Adventist Aviators!The sight of a fleeting landscape[plus dozens of additional notes arranged in 4 additional parts:]Old and new customs of a tribal societyForeigners and their odd ideasHow to do science in Papua New GuineaIn conclusion: Travel report

Editorial Reviews

"Entertaining, informative and absorbing." --Frances Q. Brearley, Times Higher Education