Book Title: The Universe Within
Author: Neil Shubin
Publisher: Penguin Books 2014
Source: The local library, they treat me well!
Page Count: 225
Audience: Science Lovers, Those who want to know a bit more the evolution of earth and man.
Buy It/Borrow it/Avoid it: Buy it!
Summed up in one word: Beginnings
Summary of the Book:
The Universe Within is a factual narrative about our connection to the earth and by extension the universe. There are so many topics packed in here, you will always learn plenty about our origin and the creation of the universe.
TUW is split across ten chapters and acknowledges the key events in the history of the universe, earth and finally our existence. It is a very story based article of events, the author speaks with an almost informal manner. The science is explained clearly but there isn't much depth or complexity to it, it is an overview of the last 13.7 billion years, with narrative being used to explain it in every day terms.
Neil Shubin starts off with a story about a research trip he was apart of in Greenland, looking for evidence of a link between reptiles and mammals 200 million years ago. The team find a tooth the size of a grain of sand that confirms their theory and the existence of the connection they are looking for. The tooth found in the extensive plain the team were searching on is a great metaphor for earth's presence in the universe :D.
I learnt many fun and interesting facts while I was working my way through TUW. For example I got to learn why the sky is blue or red, we grow three different kidney whilst we are in the womb and the Antarctic used to be a tropical environment full of life. Its these moments that make the book change from being intriguing to getting to be a fun and informative read.
NS then begins at the beginning, the big bang 13.7 billion years ago, there are plenty of images in this book that assist in making the science that NS is conveying clear, my favourite is the elemental breakdown of the human body, it is very fascinating and I may have to get in on a t-shirt as I am a nerd... NS then talks about humans discovering that we are part of bigger fabric of time and space in a vast universe and runs through how the solar systems were created and how elements play their parts in all of creation. NS goes into detail about the dynamics of a supernova and how they come about.
Each chapter moves towards how earth was created, how the seas and life came to be and eventually how homo sapiens and us managed to conquer the world. The other chapters go into topics such as the origins of water and oxygen on earth and how they balance with other elements/molecules to be able to sustain life. NS discusses earth before it was habitable and the evolution/extinction of other species that paved the way for us to become king of the hill.
This is a short book and the writing style is very accessible, I definitely recommend buying this book as it is a great way to learn more about the creation of the universe and understanding the potential for the future, the good and the bad!!
I have a few criticisms about this book. I personally feel that NS could have included some more intense scientific pieces in this book, it is quite easy going and I felt NS was capable of more. The size of the book is a shame also, its a bit short/thin, a bigger tome would have found its way onto my shelf permanently but this one may get lost in the fray. My final criticism is that the ending felt rushed to myself, There is no real summary of the book, NS tries to add additional information at times where wrapping it up would have been simpler.
Neil Shubin is a talented scientist band writer, if he ever puts together a more comprehensive collection of research and narrative on the human/universe connection I will drop everything and buy it. TUW is an important book and I think everyone should read it as its the story of us and its important to know where we come from.
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