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The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People

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3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  1,767 Ratings  ·  203 Reviews
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 an
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ebook, 240 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Brendon Schrodinger
I've had Your Inner Fish on my to-read shelf for a while now, but I thought I'd give Neil's new one a try first. What a little condensed power-house it was.

As a fellow scientist I'm well-versed in the theories presented here; but teh book offered much more. Firstly, it ties together multidisciplinary sciences in a neat little dialogue. One moment you're reading about biology, the next geology, but it all ties together. Science as a spectrum is well demonstrated here.

Secondly, the history of thes
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Jaylia3
Dec 28, 2012 Jaylia3 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When the continent of India slammed into Asia creating the Himalayas it changed the world climate which altered the plants available for food eventually leading to our ability to perceive color. How? This fascinating book, a sort of big history/big science blend, is exactly as its title describes it. The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets and People explores how the properties of our bodies and the course of our lives have been affected by the universe we live in, ...more
Nikki
I like sense-of-wonder science, like Carl Sagan’s assertions that we are “starstuff”. This sounds as if it’s going to be in that vein, and in a way it is — certainly it brings home that it’s only possible for us to have iron in our blood because of ancient fusion in the hearts of stars — but on a more banal level, it’s the perfect way of revising what you’ve learnt in the Open University’s introduction to science module, S104. If you can follow and understand everything here, you’re okay on at l ...more
Andrea
I have a bit of a nerd crush on Shubin, having now read both of his books this year. What I like about his writing, is that it is as smart and informative as it is accessible. I don't know about your average Joe, but I do not have a degree in evolutionary biology, astronomy, or tectonics, so it was sure nice to find an author who can really explain the tricky details. I've read explanations of Carbon 14 dating of fossils in both this book and Nick Lane's Oxygen, and I only really got Shubin. Lan ...more
Tanja Berg
Apr 28, 2013 Tanja Berg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very solid 4 out of 5 *. Fascinating content, well-written, personal and easily digested. Popular science at its best!

"Ours is a species that can extend its biological inheritance to see vast reaches of space, know 13.7 billion years of history, and explore our deep connections to planets, galaxies, and ohter living things. There is something almost magical to the notion that our bodies, minds, and ideas have roots in the crust of Earth, water of the oceans, and atoms in celestial bodies. The st
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Gendou
This book reminded me of A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. Except, it isn't as well written, or as comprehensive. Shubin introduces the formation of the planets and our moon. He talks about circadian rhythms. He talks about oxygen and how it allows for big bodies and mammals, etc. He tries to be Carl Sagan, with pontification on how stars go supernova and make the chemical elements that find their way into out bodies. That's about it. I guess that's the origin of the title? He ...more
Lauren
Dec 09, 2015 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, audiobooks
Not perfect, but pretty darn good. Rounded up to a full 5 stars because it was so full of memorable tidbits. Shubin may be a paleontologist, but you'll learn about astronomy, physics, microbiology, social sciences... And so many things in between. Accessible science writing that offers a solid starting point to many additional disciplines.
Stefany GG
Jan 11, 2017 Stefany GG rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable as you explore several scientific fields and how we relate to everything around us. You can feel a great Carl Sagan's inspiration. The only down is that sometimes the author deepens in some superfluous details that could be left out and make a more fluent read.
Stephen
I don't understand how this book gets its name. It is really a geological/biological/astronomical survey of earth over time.

13.7 billion years ago - The formation of the universe and how the different elements were created. This chapter includes a nice write up of how scientist estimate the age of the universe and the odd fact that all of the stars are red-shifted indicating they are moving away and why that radio telescope in New Jersey was important.

4.7 billion years ago - The creation of the
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Arvind Balasundaram
In this lively book, Neil Shubin (noted author of Your Inner Fish), makes paleontology, carbon chemistry, and climate science all come together in explaining our lives and the world around us. Drawing on the deep connectivity between our chemical composition and the natural processes in our universe, Shubin makes an immediate case of how dependent we are on almost everything around us. He explains how the state of the planet is greatly dependent on its carbon balance, a process maintained and go ...more
PEI Public Library Service
Shubin’s book is subtitled Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People, and that pretty well sums up what the books is about. It is a discussion of how astronomical events that took place billions of years ago have led to the human species as we know it today. Beginning with our very molecular composition, he shows how the evolution of the cosmos has had profound effects on the development of human life on earth and marked our own bodies. Starting with the first second of creati ...more
Jessica
Sep 23, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
3.5 stars

What I liked:
- context-rich factoids interweaving geology, astronomy, chemistry, biology, physics, and the history of science
- the extensive, descriptive "further reading" section. Love that stuff, especially in overviews like this where I sometimes want more info.

What I didn't like:
- the interdisciplinary interweaving sometimes felt like mental ping-pong, which made it hard to maintain focus at times
- I didn't get the point of all the portraits of dead science dudes. I don't care what
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Julie Davis
Apr 05, 2013 Julie Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All the galaxies in the cosmos, like every creature on the planet, and every atom, molecule, and body on Earth are deeply connected. That connection begins at a single point 13.7 billion years ago.
This book takes a big scientific fact and then links it back to life on Earth and our lives specifically. For example, the Big Bang created particles that exist on Earth and in living creatures today (including us). Along the way he tells the stories of scientists whose "wacky theories" just happened t
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Vipul Murarka
Jun 06, 2016 Vipul Murarka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neil Shubin is a great story teller. Topic such as this might be boring for few, but the way he deals with the topic is amazing. He not only gives you facts that are backed by solid figures but also tells those facts in a story format that doesnt seem like you are reading a scientific book.

The book ties together multiple disciplines of Science and has beautifully explained how humans are connected to rocks, planets, etc. The book describes how the properties of our bodies have been affected by
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Arianne
Jul 17, 2013 Arianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
completely beautiful book. It might sound silly to say but at leas to me, this book is perfect in every single way. The universe, our galaxy, the earth and all the wonderful developments that have come into fruition are all such beautiful things and processes to admire! We have such a deep connection to our environment, yet it doesnt feel like it? Through this book, I've felt like I've solidified a mysterious missing piece... a sort of lost-family connection. Seeing the development of the earth, ...more
Heather Marshall
Mar 06, 2013 Heather Marshall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I dove into The Universe Within by Neil Shubin with no expertise in the subject. It was easy for me to follow and understand. In this book Neil Shubin had a way of making me the reader so interested and always wanting to know what was going to be around the corner. I love how he broke everything down, explaining the different scientists and how there different ideas originally came about. My only criticism for this book would be the fact that it didn't seem to flow as ...more
Koen Crolla
Jun 07, 2014 Koen Crolla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biology
Neil Shubin, you'll remember, is the guy (or at the face of the team) who discovered Tiktaalik, which was all over the news a while ago. He wrote a book about that, which I quite enjoyed.
The Universe Within is more generic pop-sci, which is a bit disappointing; it's certainly not bad pop-sci, but there's also little to set it apart from a hundred other such books. Still, if you're looking for a low-difficulty thing under two hundred pages about the history of life, you could do worse.
Jennifer
Jan 08, 2013 Jennifer marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I just heard Neil Shubin speak at Harvard Bookstore and look forward to reading this book! I enjoy all types of science books, and Geology is one of my favorite areas of science, and so it is exciting to see a book that links geology with anatomy and biology.

In this talk, Shubin showed slides of places where he has explored for fossils - Painted Desert in Arizona, Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Greenland, all places I would love to go to enjoy beautiful geology.

He is an engaging speaker, and so
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Joe Iacovino
Apr 12, 2013 Joe Iacovino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun book to read. I was little hard on Shubin with "Your Inner Fish" as I was expecting a more technical read but this this time I expected a popular science book and with that expectation I was very pleased. The book jumps off to a pretty quick start and is a real smooth read. I would have liked to see a little more chemistry just to tie everything together a bit tighter. Also, I prefer footnotes that serve as little asides. Regardless, this is a great book for anyone who has an inte ...more
Ashley
Sep 04, 2015 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As my first non-fiction in years, I couldn't be happier with my choice. Neil Shubin does a superb job of taking complex theories, histories, and stories and folds them into manageable and easily understood packages. Though I'm not currently working in the field of Earth sciences, this book brought me back to my childhood explorations in creek beds and forests, finding connections between myself and our planet. A big thank you to Shubin for re-opening this curiosity within.
Troy Neujahr
Shubin's science, anecdotes, and warmly friendly writing style make "The Universe Within" an intriguing read. While I as a conservative Christian and pastor cannot agree with Shubin's evolutionary scientific conclusions, I nevertheless appreciated hearing his voice in this book, and found the breadth of topics to be sufficiently satisfying. All in all, a good read if you appreciate a scientist who is able to speak from his worldview with articulation and without condescension.
Daphne Miller
Mar 21, 2013 Daphne Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although not as fantastic as Your Inner Fish (Shubin's previous book) this book is a great reminder of just how intimately our biology (and our health) is connected to our environment and our planet.
Dominic
Jan 28, 2013 Dominic rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I liked his first book a lot because it was packed with facts and interesting things about our biology. This book takes a slightly more "Gee whiz, isn't the universe amazing" approach which left me feeling a little pandered to.
Plamen H.
May 22, 2015 Plamen H. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Увлекателна, много добре написана. Дълбоката ни взаимосвързаност с Вселената, подкрепена с купища интересни факти. Изток-Запад да не се ослушват, ами да налягат парцалите - книгата е бижу и заслужава българско издание.
Merilee
Jun 27, 2014 Merilee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really 4.5 stars. Shubin writes beautifully about topics scientific. The only reason I didn't give this 5 stars was because it was not quite as superb as his previous Your Inner Fish.
Jeremy Jetzon
An expository tour de force! Shubin excels in stringing together words and sentences in order to communicate ideas!
Alan
Feb 08, 2015 Alan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clearly written but not enough technical meat for my taste.
Mark Bailey
Jan 02, 2017 Mark Bailey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: torrey
This work is more about how science can and should be interrelated to make discoveries and present understanding than how the cosmos is present in our bodies. My favorite example is of Chet Raymo's daughter Maureen's hypothosis that the Indian subcontinent pushing up the Himalayas created global cooling 40 million years ago. The new exposed rock had a chemical reaction with rain taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. Geology, paleontology, climatology and more. It is less clear to me how that shows u ...more
Amy
Nov 07, 2016 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfict, science
This was really interesting but I kept being bothered by the writing style. Especially the conclusions of each chapter/section made me think of high school 5 paragraph essay conclusions.
Book
Jan 14, 2013 Book rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: evolution, science
The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People

“The Universe Within" is a fun journey to what connects us to the cosmos. Professor Shubin the author of the best-selling “Your Inner Fish” provides readers with a wonderful and accessible book that connects the dots to our human origins. Using his background in paleontology and the converging knowledge from biology and physics; we end up with an enjoyable instructive book that is perfect for the layperson. This 240
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“Each galaxy, star, or person is the temporary owner of particles that have passed through the births and deaths of entities across vast reaches of time and space. The particles that make us have traveled billions of years across the universe; long after we and our planet are gone, they will be a part of other worlds.” 14 likes
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