94 of 97 people found the following review helpful
The thrill of the scientific hunt,
This review is from: The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People (Hardcover)
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This book covers a lot of ground, starting with the Big Bang and going through the history of life on Earth. Although much of the material may have been written about before, the author has an original slant that makes the narrative quite fascinating.
Neil Shubin sees our bodies as time capsules that carry the signature of great cosmic and earthly events. For example, written inside us is the birth of the stars. Certain elements in our bodies derive from supernovae. Certain of our organs are shaped by the workings of planets and the action of seas. The particles that make us have traveled billions of years across the universe and will be part of other worlds when Earth is gone...
All this is very appealing, and made me feel very much a citizen of the universe.
The narrative is occasionally interrupted by scenes of Shubin fossil hunting and rock gathering in the Arctic. This is a nice personal touch. And because Shubin is himself fossil hunter, he understands the passion of scientists. The book is full of tales of major scientific discoveries. What I particularly liked was the emphasis on the inspired individuals behind the discoveries, like the self-taught naturalist who went bankrupt mapping the geology of Britain, or the behind-the-scenes woman data analyst who first noticed that the ocean floor was expanding.
Shubin shows how lunatic-fringe ideas eventually became proven scientific fact, and discredited visionaries died, only to have their ideas "discovered" more successfully generations later. This is a lot of fun.
I'm writing this review from the point of view of someone woefully ignorant of science. For me, it was a great way to catch up on what's been transpiring in the universe for the last 13.7 billion years. And learn what the future may hold.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 19, 2012 6:10:58 AM PST
Andrew Schonbek says:
From one citizen of the universe to another - great review!
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012 8:17:44 AM PST
Thanks, Andrew. The book did me good.
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