The Universe Within
The Deep History of the Human Body
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From one of our finest and most popular science writers, the best-selling author of Your Inner Fish, comes the answer to a scientific mystery story as big as the world itself: How have astronomical events that took place millions of years ago created the unique qualities of the human species?
In his last book, Neil Shubin delved into the amazing connections between human anatomy—our hands, our jaws—and the structures in the fish that first took over land 375 million years ago. Now, with his trademark clarity and exuberance, he takes an even more expansive approach to the question of why we are the way we are. Starting once again with fossils, Shubin turns his gaze skyward. He shows how the entirety of the universe's 14-billion-year history can be seen in our bodies. From our very molecular composition (a result of stellar events at the origin of our solar system), he makes clear, through the working of our eyes, how the evolution of the cosmos has had profound effects on the development of human life on earth.
From the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
A synthesis of everything
Well, I'm biased. The opening chapter struck a chord; ten years earlier, in 1976, I'd accompanied Farish Jenkins, Chuck Schaff, and Bill Amaral on a collecting expedition in Montana. So I was hooked here from the get-go. Still, the title and topic seemed so far reaching that I purchased the book largely out of skepticism that anyone could address such a theme in a concise and coherent way. But as in his previous book, Your Inner Fish, Shubin maintains this interest with an enviable ability to connect disparate topics and events into a meaningful whole, just as he's done in connecting paleontology with cell and developmental biology in his professional life. He's able to balance technical detail with clear and entertaining prose. He strikes a good balance between personal anecdote and scientific exposition--and maintains that balance through the whole scope of the book. There is a tendency to oversimplify at times, and a few obvious proofreading mistakes--e.g., whales are derived from even-toed ungulates, not odd-toed--but these are minor issues; I very thoroughly enjoyed this and hope there's more to come.
The Universe Within
Excellent book, clear and well written.